Gig review: INGLORIOUS – Islington Assembly Hall – 22nd September 2021

The award for busiest band of 2021 might have to be Inglorious. They finally got to play material from the two albums they have already released on an extensive tour of 20 dates, taking in several places off the usual gig circuit.

After contenting myself with local shows and the odd festival since live music resumed, the Islington Assembly Hall show was my first gig in London and the same was true of many gig buddies from the scene. Indeed  I joked it was like coming back for the new school term after the longest summer holiday in history!

However it was a shock on arriving to find just how empty it was, with balcony closed and seats moved to the sides of a sparsely populated floor.  I hope this reflects the fact attendances are down with many people naturally nervous about returning to gigs, allied to the choice of other shows in the provinces on the tour, rather than a long-term decline in the popularity of a band whose last headline appearances were at the larger Electric Ballroom and Shepherds Bush Empire.

There were two supporting acts opening with Tim Prottey- Jones. A heavily bearded figure, looking like a cross between Chris Stapleton and Rag’n’Bone Man, he was an old friend of Inglorious frontman Nathan James – in fact both made the same joke during the evening that their friendship dates back to MySpace!

He was humorous and engaging  and his set of originals, plus a Brandi Carlile cover in ‘The Joke’  was agreeable listening . However the drawback of a solo acoustic format is that it is difficult to really get an insight into an artist’s musical style – so he introduced ‘Until I Do’ as his power ballad and ‘Exit Wound’ as a heavy song, but they sounded very similar to me.

Main support Mercutio were a different kettle of fish. The UK-Italian band were a tight unit but the band members stayed in the shadows somewhat and the charismatic, lithe, lizard-like figure of Ross William Wild ruled the show. He lived up to the self-description on his website as an ‘edgy performer’, even in recounting drug taking activities, but his mannerisms including at one stage picking up and reading from a book, make him a marmite-type character.

The music owed more to alternative sounds than more traditional classic rock tropes, with few guitar solos to speak of, though songs like ‘Chaos is King’ and set closer ‘The Ghost’ were more straight ahead rock. Catchy melodies were in short supply however, and I’m afraid they did not float my own boat at all, in hindsight being a musical mismatch with the headliners.

Fortunately the place had filled up presentably by the time Inglorious came on stage, curiously to the evocative intro tape of the ‘Grandstand’ theme. The growing sense of anticipation reached a peak as Danny Dela Cruz, in dapper pinstriped suit, cranked out the riff to one of 2021’s impressive singles, ‘She Won’t Let You Go’, but what a disappointment- the sound was awful and Nathan’s usual powerful bellow almost inaudible from my central spot a few yards from the front.

It only gradually cleared up during old favourite ‘Breakaway’ with a tidy solo from the spry, red bowler hat-wearing Dan Stevens and ‘Midnight Sky’  the first of the covers from latest album ‘Heroine’.

Nathan then encouraged audience participation to sing ‘we’re in f—ing London during ‘Where Are You Now’ and, though ‘Read All About It ‘ was mundane,  the gig by now was on an upward trajectory with ‘Misery’, one of the few songs where Rob Lindop’s keyboards played a major role, showing the benefits of the heavier and more contemporary approach they took on ‘We Will Ride’.

Nathan confirmed what I suspected, that Alanis Morrisette’s ‘Uninvited’ was the song that inspired them to do an all-female covers album and it took on an epic quality with his voice stretched to its limit and atmospheric solos in turn from both guitarists.

Drummer Phil Beaver was brought down – to chants of one of the best surnames in rock – to add a further guitar to the acoustic segment of ‘Glory Days’ with Nathan’s falsetto standing out, and a cover of ‘Time After Time’ where Nathan encouraged a singalong, not least as he was suffering from a cold, a fact most of us had not noticed till he mentioned it.

‘We Will Ride’ material featured strongly as ‘Medusa’ featured some sterling slide guitar work from Danny,  and ‘He Will Provide’ was, as Nathan pointed out, the heaviest song they have written.

However there were old favourites with ‘Holy Water’, tension building as each guitarist played a few bars of the solo, Danny excelling before Nathan came in with his trademark roar; and ‘I Don’t Need Your Loving’ with its stripped back and mid-tempo chorus made for singing  along.

Tim Prottey- Jones was brought back to add acoustic and a few lead vocal lines on ‘Eye Of The Storm’ which really developed as it went on before the main set ended with ‘We Will Ride’s title track, powerfully delivered with mass backing vocals and Phil a colossus on drums.

Disappointingly there was only one encore but evergreen first album favourite ‘Until I Die’ delivered with Nathan’s Coverdale meets Dio  vocals over a big brooding riff,  though he contented himself with coming to the front of the stage for a scream rather than his pre-Covid crowd sortie.

With a significantly wider repertoire now, this was a very rounded performance from Inglorious. Nathan James’ self-confidence (which seemed to be toned down on this occasion) and talent show background has historically meant that they get a bad rap in many circles, but they have matured nicely into an excellent act, who got the autumn touring cycle off to a flying start.

Review by Andy Nathan
Photos by Paul Clampin  

The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 26 September. This marked the start of a new monthly series. Josh’s next session is Sunday 31 October.

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 28 September 2021.

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