Gig review: RIVAL SONS – The Ritz, Manchester, 11 December 2014

RIVAL SONS - The Ritz, Manchester, 11 December 2014

Rival Sons: are these guys the new Kings of Cool?  They certainly put an essence of style back into rock music and show that it’s not all battered denim and leather as they stroll onto the stage suited and booted with handlebar moustaches displayed proudly.

All style and no substance? Definitely not, currently touring their fourth album ‘The Great Western Valkyrie’ which has received rave reviews as they yet again expand their music prowess playing a heady mix of psychedelia and rock akin to the masters of the 60’s and 70’s but with their own flair and style which gives it a great modern sound.

With only a handful of dates left on the current tour announcements have already being made for a return tour next year which like these dates are likely to sell out quickly.  Support for tonight comes from Blues Pills and Jameson.

Jameson - The Ritz, Manchester, 11 December 2014

Jameson who has supported the Rivals Sons on a few occasions now managed to get on the tour after working with RS’s new bass player Dave Beste on his latest EP ‘Carnivore’. A modern mix of Americana folk/country with an amazingly powerful voice he belts out a short but excellent set.

Blues Pills - The Ritz, Manchester, 11 December 2014

We caught Blues Pills recently at HRH and watched them blow away the crowd with their groove infused vintage rock sound.  Fronted by Elin Larsson who has great stage presence and a superbly powerful voice and an amazing young guitarist in Dorian Sorriaux they are soon to be on their own headline tours.

Kicking off with ‘High Class Woman’ which leads us in with deep rumbling bass from Zack Anderson (formerly of Radio Moscow) before the lead and those amazing vocals kick in.

Mid-set we get the slower but no less powerful ‘No Hope Left For Me’ which gives all the band a chance to shine with some brilliant guitar licks and bass runs followed by ‘Devil Man’ one of the best tracks from their self-titled debut album.  Another great set and a great taster for those who haven’t heard of them before.

Rival Sons - The Ritz, Manchester, 11 December 2014

With the sold out venue now packed from wall to wall Rival Sons took to the stage to a barrage of applause and cheers from the crowd.  Hitting us hard right from the off with ‘You Want To’, ‘All Over The Road’ and the song that bought the band to a lot of people’s attention ‘Pressure And Time’.   The only word I can use is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

The way Jay Buchannan moves and writhes as he delivers the vocals is almost trance-like. This is the first time we have seen the new bass player Dave Beste and while not as forward
as Jay and Scott he hammers out the bass line and links with Mike Miley on drums perfectly.

Rival Sons - The Ritz, Manchester, 11 December 2014

Scott Holliday rips out the first chords of the powerful single ‘Electric Man’ and even if they can’t fully reproduce the scale of the drum sound that Mike Miley manages to get on the album version of the song as ever he is hugely energetic around his kit.  Surprise for us is to see a dedicated keys player, Todd Ögren-Brooks has only been on the tours this year and fits great into the sound mix.

As the set continues they pull tracks from all the main albums including their first self-released title ‘Before The Fire’ and also their first released single ‘Torture’ where Jay gets the crowd singing back to him and even after the has track finished the crowd continue to sing.

Rival Sons - The Ritz, Manchester, 11 December 2014

Noticeably tonight the delivery of the set is expanding with a number of tracks fading out to applause before they kick back in,  bringing the crowd more into the set.

With a final encore to end the night that included ‘Open My Eyes’ and ‘Keep On Swinging’ I think this is by far one of the best shows I have seen them do and maybe the last time we see them in this size of venue.

Rival Sons are definitely one of the best live bands around at present and with the album releases continuing to expand their sound into the stylish psychedelic 70’s rock sound I can’t wait to hear what the next release brings us.

Blues Pills: High Class Woman, Ain’t No Change, No Hope Left For Me, Devil Man, Little Sun / Outro
Rival Sons: You Want To, All Over the Road, Pressure and Time, Electric Man, Good Luck, Secret, Good Things, Manifest Destiny, Part 1, Torture, Rich and the Poor, Where I’ve Been, Tell Me Something, Get What’s Coming Encore: Open My Eyes, Face of Light / Sacred Tongue , Keep On Swinging

Review and photos by Simon Dunkerley

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