Review and photos by Rich Ward
Occasionally a gig will come along that ends up exceeding your expectations in every way imaginable. Tuesday night at the Vault turned out to be one such night. I will admit to being disappointed by hearing that Scots rockers Gun had pulled out of the tour. That disappointment didn’t last long. Opening band Dirty Pool served up a set of heavy blues influenced tracks that seemed to fit well with the Zeppelin soundtrack that had been playing over the PA earlier. An accomplished cover of ‘Red House’ sat comfortably midset. Despite a shortened set, the trio went down well and successfully warmed up the venue for the second act. And what a great venue the Vault is; professionally run with good sound and lighting and – most importantly – decently stocked bar.
Buffalo Summer proved to be a revelation. Hailing from the rock n roll mecca that is Swansea, the boys delivered a powerful groove-laden set with tracks culled from their self-financed eponymous début album. Lead singer Andrew Hunt conjures up images of laid back Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson or Skynyrd’s Allen Collins cool while guitarist Johnny Williams dishes out the riffs from behind a seemingly impenetrable mane. Playing classic rock n’ roll with a modern edge, they certainly have the look a rock band should, and with classy songs like ‘A Horse Named Freedom’ and ‘Down To The River’ one can only hope to hear more from them in the future. If you’ve enjoyed the likes of Rival Sons and The Answer this year, be sure to catch Buffalo Summer next time they roll into your town. With any justice, 2013 will see them spreading their wings and gaining the larger audience they deserve. They certainly made some converts tonight, none more so than myself.
And with the atmosphere suitably palpable it was time for the main act. Walking Papers have chosen to play a handful of low key dates as their first outings to the UK. This may be due to fitting in around Duff’s other commitments (in the last week he has been in the UK promoting his autobiography and supporting Alice Cooper with Loaded). In fact, I am later told that they have played more shows together than they have rehearsed. Not that any of that shows, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to be up close and personal in such an intimate setting. The core of the band is ex-Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin and Missionary Position frontman Jeff Angell, complemented by Duff McKagen and Ben Anderson on keys. Taking to the stage they soon settle into the hypnotic groove that is ‘Already Dead’ quickly followed by the heavier ‘The Whole World’s Watching’, the songs flowing in a cool, laid back almost restrained mood at times but with a definite groove. Hot, sweaty and with a great vibe between band and audience, this IS Rock ‘n’ Roll. ‘Leave Me In The Dark’ is outstanding with thunderous drums and heartfelt vocals. Further highlights come in the sparse and emotive ‘The Butcher’ and a belting ‘Red Envelopes’,
By the time of the main set closer ‘Independence Day’, both band and audience have given their all. All of their album tracks have been played, so the encore is left to a new song, so new in fact that it’s still just called ‘New Song’. It goes down well and is a fitting end to a superb night: a three band bill that thrilled on all counts.
And you can see more shots from the show here: