There seems to be a never ending series of hirsute young bands, influenced by their parents’ record collections, coming out of the USA, and the southern states in particular.
One such is Goodbye June who first appeared on my radar when many people at last year’s Greta Van Fleet shows went home raving about them. I was unsuccessful in my mission to catch them at Download but a feature in Classic Rock recently was a timely reminder to make amends on their first proper UK tour.
It was fitting that the gig was in the hipster capital of London, Hoxton, home of all things bearded and retro. Though a side room off a bar, the venue was a decent size with a raised stage and a worthy addition to the smaller venues of London as so many are under the threat of redevelopment.
There was also some home-grown support in West Midlanders Wolf Jaw. There have been changes since I last saw them as the Bad Flowers with singer and guitarist Tom Leighton sporting a new shorter haircut and a change of name that better suits the muscular sound of this impressively heavy power trio.
They played a number of songs from new album ‘The Heart Won’t Listen’ including ‘Hear Me’ and ‘Piece Of Me’ while ‘Living The Dream’ was mixed mash-up style with a cover of ‘War Pigs’, bassist Dale Tonks taking the lead vocals on the latter.
Tom’s vocals reminded me a little of Ian Astbury while he introduced ‘Beast’ as their heaviest song but it was an old favourite ‘City Lights’ that closed the set with an almost Clutch-like musical intensity.
As Goodbye June took the stage it was immediately clear that the high-pitched, raspy vocals of Landon Milbourn would be an acquired taste. On opener ‘Rolling Off My Tongue’ they called to mind Dan McCafferty of Nazareth but on others such as ‘Universal Mega Love’, Robert Plant or more accurately GVF’s Josh Kiszka.,
Things looked up when he played acoustic for ‘Anywhere The Wind Blows’ which came over as Led Zeppelin meets Tesla, and indeed it was other ballads that were most impressive in ’Be Yourself’ and ‘Lonely Beautiful People’, the latter with a gorgeous seventies feel.
The band had a real groove to them with the rhythm section kicking in just half a beat behind, while for me the star of the show was Landon’s cousin, lead guitarist Tyler Baker, looking a little like Mike Campbell. I haven’t been so impressed with the traditional, rootsy feel from a young guitarist in a long time. He was particularly adept on slide, and on one song ‘Darlin’ he brilliantly slowed to a standstill before a solo full of emotion.
Heavier rockers such as ‘Good Side’ sparked outbreaks of joy from a crowd obviously familiar with the material as did ‘Daisy’ with its celtic-style lead guitar theme. However ‘Switchblade Heart’ was strikingly altogether different, with an almost post-punk, danceable feel.
Surprisingly Landon seemed quite introverted and spoke very little between songs, frustratingly not introducing any of them, nor introducing the band, though he seemed genuinely humbled by the way UK fans had made them feel welcome.
Completing a generous hour and 10 minute set, there were a trio of encores in ‘Joan&Dylan’, the punky ‘Oh No’ and ‘Free Child’. However by this stage the dominant influences to my ears were of a later vintage, the garage blues-rock revivalists like the Black Keys and early Kings of Leon, another once hirsute band of relatives who subsequently became inexplicably massive but lost that early mojo.
I hope the same fate does not befall Goodbye June: while I left thinking they were not quite my scene, they are clearly a talented band going places.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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