It’s a big step up from the Barfly in 2011 to Shepherds Bush Empire in 2013 but Rival Sons sold out the old place for the biggest gig in their short history and they absolutely killed it, I mean knocked it right out of the park.
The stage at Shepherds Bush is large enough that they were able to use the space and Jay Buchanan was shimming and showing moves all over the stage from the opening notes of ‘You Want To’. He has a bellow like Robert Plant in his pomp and when I closed my eyes I could almost see Planty in my mind’s eye but he is younger and – from the admiring looks of at least half the crowd around me – a damn sight prettier too. He can do the slow and soulful stuff as well and really comes over as a classic rocker with some very original tones.
Scott Holiday has a very individual look as well and his guitar playing is awesome – one of the few guitarists around at the moment who plays a Rickenbacker or a Strat because they give him the sound and through tracks like ‘Wild Animal’ or ‘Manifest Destiny Pt 1’ his playing was superb.
The confidence and sheer strut of these guys is so refreshing and with a rhythm section like Robin Everhart and Mike Miley they are hardly likely to miss any beats; in fact for a band with as loose a sound as they have they play it incredibly tight.
The crowd were on their side from the off and they seemed to respond by playing harder than I have seen them before. This is not exactly a style of music that hasn’t been done before – they have elements of Zep, Purple and even The Doors in their sound – but they are one of the best around at what they do and they seem to get better with the adulation and the passion around them. A fine band and a great gig.
Earlier, The Graveltones gave us a short set of sixties feeling psych-rock and definitely marked themselves out as a band to check out. Jimmy O is a terrific vocalist and they sound special in all the best ways.
Rival Sons Setlist
1. You Want To 2. Get What's Coming 3. Wild Animal 4. Gypsy Heart 5. Torture 6. Memphis Sun 7. All the Way 8. Until the Sun Comes 9. Jordan 10. Manifest Destiny, Part 1 11. Keep On Swinging 12. Pressure and Time 13. Sacred Tongue / Face of Light Encore: 14. Drum Solo 15. Soul