Album review: VIRGIL & THE ACCELERATORS – Live at Marshall 31/8/12

Virgil & The Accelerators

Mystic Records [Release date: 29.04.13]

One of the hardest working and talented young kick ass rock-blues bands on the circuit, Virgil & The Accelerators are like a lightning bolt out of the starting block.

Having shown their raw ability in their teens with a 5 track EP/CD, VATA confirmed their potential with their full blown debut album ‘The Radium’. The quality of the songs, the sparkling solos and their fearlessness in the studio marked them out as special. And this live album finds them frequently pushing the songs beyond their original arrangements with real feel, intensity and an essential interconnectedness with their enthusiastic audience

‘Live at Marshall 31/8/12’ captures them at their vibrant best barely an hour after they were still mired in the logistics of stage construction (read the story in the liner notes).

VATA are fronted by the major guitar talent of Virgil McMahon whose incendiary note rushes and deep tones are the key to his solos. But they are a band of equal parts who all fully contribute to a passionate, fiery set with more inspiration than perspiration

You can dip into any part of this DVD to find a band consistently chasing a musical spark via focussed intensity and bristling vitality.  They say sometimes a band’s greatness is as much due to the time and place as raw talent and this live DVD confirms they have the ability to draw a cross generational audience back to music based on substantive songs and a collective musical ability in a way that might have been more difficult a decade ago.

‘Live at Marshall’ is all about an impassioned, young, road hardened power trio who launch themselves into a dazzling set based on a mutual understanding with their audience that enjoying yourself isn’t a crime. The resulting blistering rock, contrasting reflective bluesy moods and special dynamic moment captured by the multi camera shoot is everything you would want from a real live album

Virgil’s whirlwind solos are reliant on the powerhouse rhythm section of the redoubtable bass playing Jack Timmis and the explosive 18 year old drummer Gabe McMahon who provide the fuel for his fire.  Their combined energy and drive perfectly compliments Virgil’s indefatigable search for the kind of polished magical notes and ringing melodies to be found on impressive self penned songs like ‘Working Man’.

The band rock out on the subliminal Keith Richards riffs of ‘Refuse To Believe’ and the ZZ Top influenced ‘88’, on which Virgil growls out his vocals as the rhythm section again pushes him to greater heights.

It’s not all fire and brimstone though, as the band drop down a gear to explore the deep blues of The Hoax’s ‘Don’t Shake My Hand’. The sultry, meandering ‘Silver Giver’ – dedicated to Jim Marshall – is also special, built on gently swaying groove and topped by Virgil conversational solo with a glistening tone. You can hear a pin drop as his delicate notes cut through the hot sweaty atmosphere and float round the room like twinkling stars, before he launches into a meteoric attack with a slight change of tone, to soar magnificently into the melody.

The two well deserved encores mix fun with shred filled intensity, as they juxtapose Rage Against The Machine – complete with Jack’s funkiest bass line and Gabe’s primal energy – with a memorable version of Hendrix’s ‘Are You Experienced’.

‘Live At Marshall’ is an authentic live DVD and CD by Virgil & The Accelerators, one of the most exiting bands on the circuit and guaranteed to lighten up even the most jaded rock-blues palate. ****1/2

Review by Pete Feenstra

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