Gig review: INGLORIOUS – Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

INGLORIOUS - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

What seemed the inevitable rise to superstardom of classic rock hopefuls Inglorious has hit something of a rocky road in the last year or two. While they were touring bigger venues, initially well received ‘Inglorious 2’ album in hindsight found them treading water.

Then, last autumn, just as they were gearing up for the crucial third album three of the five band members who recorded it left in a single day and – as is the modern world – their dispute with singer Nathan James played out in unedifying fashion on social media. All this meant that uncertainty surrounded their UK tour including this largest headline show to date in London.

City Of Thieves - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

There were two bands in support with Blind River opening proceedings with an acoustic set then Inglorious’ Frontiers Records labelmates City Of Thieves. For years they have been treading the boards in my part of West London, though this was the first time I had seen them since a name change from Four Wheel Drive and a more recent stripping down to a three piece.

There was no corresponding loss of power and intensity in a set full of raw, no holds barred rock’n’ rollers and indeed on opener ‘Damage’  rough-edged vocalist and bassist Jamie Lailey even had a touch of Mick Jagger, another man who made his name in and around the Thames delta. They took an obvious pride on their biggest show yet in their home city and indeed were allowed a longer slot than on the rest of the tour.

City Of Thieves - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

They tore through a number of songs, principally from new album ‘Beast Reality’.  If truth be told their style is not to my more polished tastes but they saved the best for last with a closing trio – ‘Ride it Like You Stole It’ had a bluesier riff from non-stop guitarist Ben Austwick, the frantic ‘Buzzed Up City’ came over like a domestic version of Airbourne and set closer ‘Something Of Nothing’ was the catchiest most mainstream number on view. Without a doubt their energetic approach picked up a significant numbers of new friends.

Inglorious’ rather ominously titled new album ‘Ride To Nowhere’ had only recently appeared, so many – myself included- had not had time to become familiar with it. However they showed their own confidence in it, opening with its lead off single in ‘Where Are  You Now’ followed by more familiar numbers from their first two albums in ‘Taking The Blame’, ‘High Flying Gypsy’ and ‘Read All About It’. It wasn’t the best start for the simple reason that the sound took a while to sort itself out with Nathan James’ vocals rather buried in the mix.

INGLORIOUS - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

I felt that after ‘II’ they needed to get out of their comfort zone so ‘Glory Days’ was a welcome complete change of style, featuring various band members including drummer Phil Beaver on acoustic guitar and Nathan singing in a delicate falsetto far removed from his trademark Coverdalian roar, though the latter was in evidence in old favourites – the rapid fire ‘Warning’, heavy blues of ‘Making Me Pay’ and ‘Breakaway’ with the classic Purple and Whitesnake-isms that initially attracted me to the band.

INGLORIOUS - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

The focus of curiosity was the new band members and teenage guitarist Danny Dela Cruz was visually striking, with a mop of dark curls and fur jacket that made him look like Marc Bolan’s undiscovered stepchild, combined with some very Slash-like Les Paul guitar poses.

I had been a big fan of his predecessor Andreas Eriksson, but he played excellently throughout while Dan Stevens was given a few more solo opportunities than his two predecessors in the supporting guitar role. I felt overall the band were still finding their way and lacked the heavyweight clout that so impressed me with the previous line up, but it was a certainly a promising start.

INGLORIOUS - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

Nathan did thank former band members for their service but – speaking charitably – a comment ‘whatever they’re doing tonight it’s not this’ may have reflected his pride at playing their biggest London show yet rather than a perceived dig at them. The title track from the new album, with a hint of early Black Sabbath, and ‘Liar’ were notably heavier.

INGLORIOUS - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

In keeping with the night, even when they played their customary cover Nathan stepped outside his comfort zone with Alanis Morrisette’s ‘Uninvited’. It didn’t do much for me personally but led into a neo-classical guitar  solo slot from Danny which was probably the moment of the gig that most marked him out as a real talent.

INGLORIOUS - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

‘Far Away’, dedicated to Nathan’s late grandfather was one where the bluesy balladry lent itself to Whitesnake comparisons and as the gig entered the home straight ‘I Don’t Need Your Loving’ saw mass fist punching from a crowd that for a new band included a large number of fellow old rockers, and newie ‘I Don’t Know You’ which had something of an epic feel.

INGLORIOUS - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

For the encores though it was back to the tried and tested with – as is customary- Nathan singing the slow, stately ‘Holy Water’ from the Empire balcony, making his way back down as Dan and Danny traded solos,  before they finished with the gigantic riffing of ‘Until I Die’.

While not a perfect show, this demonstrated that a regrouped Inglorious are putting their growing pains behind them for a brighter future, and reports of their imminent demise look to be exaggerated.

INGLORIOUS - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 1 February 2019

Review and photos by Andy Nathan


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