Gig review: COLLATERAL – Leo’s, The Red Lion, Gravesend, Friday 4 September 2020

Collateral at Leo's

After months of musical isolation, what could be better than stumbling on a gig when you least expect it and then re-discovering a stellar band on the rise.

They say momentum is everything in rock music, and Collateral aren’t about to let a virus stand in their way. For while tonight they should have been in Australia with Skid Row, they pour their collective energy into transforming the first of 2 sold out, hometown outdoor gigs in Gravesend into their own arena style vibe.

So if the idea of checking out an “unknown” band holds more of an attraction than it might otherwise have done, simply because it’s been so long since any of us were at a full blown rock show, it is even better to re-discover a kick-ass classic rock band who put the emphasis on strong songs with booming hooks and ripping guitar work.

In truth, it takes a while for me to blow the cobwebs away. My mate asks if I’d ever heard of this band? The car park is awash with Eagles style harmonies and initially I assume it must be a tribute band. But as Collateral come into view my brain clicks into gear and everything makes perfect sense.

Here is a real old school front man with one hot band. And as they launch into the riff driven, soaring harmonies of ‘Mr. Big Shot’ with the opening line: “I’m dressed to kill, got problems on my back”, I finally realise who the band is.

Maybe it was because they’ve expanded to a six piece – including a keyboard player and second guitarist Louis Malagodi – that I was a bit slow on the uptake. But there’s simply no denying the presence of front man Angelo Tristan, a performer born for the role of a retro rock star in contemporary times.

Apparently, he’s just landed an Aerosmith biopic film role and you can see why. He looks the part, oozes charisma and has an effortless vocal range.  He’s also got real stage craft, born of knowing how to connect with the crowd. He intuitively knows when to break things down and demand a sing-along and when to let his band rock out.

It helps of course that tonight’s crowd is really up for it with socially distanced fist pumping and plenty of singing, while the band feeds off the energy to rock into the night.

But there’s more, as Tristan is also not averse to taking chances as he suddenly gives the band some time out, to bring real emotion to Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah”, accompanied only by his keyboard player.

He may be the personification of the band, but Collateral is very much the sum of its parts.

Aside from the thundering rhythm section, Todd Winger’s shred induced solos and a sense of grandeur generated by extravagant shapes, choreographed moves and the mountains of hair, it’s the effortless way things all come together on a booming chorus and the resolution of a tension building dynamic that makes Collateral a classic rock band.

That said, their material openly breaks the mould, as just when you think you are listening to a Bon Jovi style Glam metal band, they slip into glistening West coast harmonies, on an acoustic-into-electric arrangement with a crowd friendly hook.

If there’s something overly familiar about this band, it’s obviously the way they mine their musical antecedents. What makes them special is their refined songs and colourful narratives, all brought together in a live show full of unbridled energy which captures the moment.

And let’s face it, after being dormant for the best part of 7 months, the moment is now and they deliver big time.

Review by Pete Feenstra

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