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Live – Rival Sons Head Down Tour 2012, The Corporation, Sheffield UK – Monday 24th September 2012

| 27 September 2012 | Reply

By Wavey Dave Howarth

After seeing Rival Sons supporting Black Stone Cherry in town earlier in the year we were first in the queue when they announced a headline show at The Corporation in Sheffield.

The Corporation rock venue is like an underground car park (only not as posh) but continues to book way better bands than many of the ‘better’ venues in town. On a grim, depressingly rainy Monday night I feared there might be a small, less than enthusiatic crowd.. but thankfully that wasn’t the case.

Having only just got hold of the latest RS album, Head Down, I had only had a few chances to listen to it. First impression was that it wasn’t as immediate as the previous Pressure and Time album, but a couple of listens and it’s definitely dripping with quality songs. Me and my fellow gig goers thought beforehand that the new songs would really shine live.. and that they certainly did.

Due to there being a club night straight after, the gig started quite early and we missed the support. Once in and cider in hand, the lights were down and the atmosphere began to grow in anticipation. The band came on in darkness with no intro or fanfare other than a growing noise on the PA that sounded not unlike when you try and get the Test Match commentary on long wave radio.. an odd hissing noise, very strange. But then – BLAM! – the band were off and running with a kicking ‘Pressure and Time’. Two new songs follow, ‘Wild Animal’ and ‘You Want To’ are all late 60s early 70s bluster like the angry ‘proto-punk/metal’ of MC5 or The Stooges.

Immediately diminuative singer, Jay Buchanan, struck us a very aloof Morrison-esque figure, all back-lit and with very little (if any) banter with the crowd. However, for a fella built somewhat like a skinned rabbit, he posesses one of the finest voices I’ve heard in rock music for a while. The band feels like you’ve known them forever, pleasingly retro but totally new and relevent. You find yourself saying they’re like Zeppelin.. but not. Or early Purple.. but not. I’d liken them in style and delivery to the equally fabulous The Answer from Ireland. Rhythm section, Robin Everhart on bass and Mike Miley on drums, lay down a solid background funky, low and trouser vibrating. Guitarist Scott Holiday is understated in his playing but surely a hero of the future. He appears to be the one member of the band who takes any sort of time to communicate with the crowd, something that I would suggest RS need to brush up on.. but thats a minor gripe.

The setlist was a fair old mix from all four releases, including the elusive first album. Highlights amongst a very classy set included the fabulous should-be-a-summer-hit ”Until The Sun Comes’, new single ‘Keep on Swinging’ had the crowd thumping the air and an incendiary (sorry for the pun) ‘Burn Down Los Angeles’ was an absolute blast, heavy and full of piss and vinegar.

The all too short (but top, top quality) set finished with ‘Torture’ (from the EP) and an astounding ‘Face The Light’. At this point, Jay sort of flounced off stage left, shortly followed by the band with, again, little interaction with a slightly bemused crowd. We were unsure whether they were pissed off or not, though the reception they had all night was ecstatic. It would seem that they just aren’t big show offs or bullshitters but I do think a little bit of banter would only add to their not inconsiderable strenghts.

The encore would normally be a handful of quickfire rockers but the band are that sure of their talent and worth, they finish the show with a couple of real bluesy slow burners. With the new twin track Manifest Destiny parts 1 and 2, the band showcased all their individual strengths, never being dull or up their own arses. I and others expected maybe ‘Get What’s Coming’ or ‘All Over The Road’ to finish off with a bang but we were treated to ‘Soul’, where Jay Buchanan shows what he’s made of. Maybe a bit too cocky to finish with a song like that, but, fortune favours the brave and the crowd loved it.

I really think, if there’s any justice, Rival Sons won’t be playing grotty little clubs forever – though part of me hopes they will because , close up and personal is the way to see and hear quality music like this. You owe it to yourself to see Rival Sons. We came away through the rain flooded streets believing we’d seen a genuinely special band.. I just wish they’d let us know they’d enjoyed it as much as us!

Pressure and Time
Wild Animal
You Want To
Until The Sun Comes
Memphis Sun
Burn Down Los Angeles
Keep On Swinging
On My Way
Gypsy Heart
Run From Revelation
Face Of Light
Manifest Destiny (parts 1 and 2)

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Category: Live Reviews

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