Thursday 11th December. The Borderline. The Rockingbirds. A milestone for me tonight. Forty gigs in a year and I couldn’t think of a band I would rather spend my night with. It’s the Rockingbirds, North London’s finest. They never let you down. A great mix of oldies and newbies. Brilliant as always. Nuff said. Looking forward to 2015, ten booked already, shaping up to be a great year already. Keep on rockin y’all
Monday 8th December. Portsmouth Pyramids. Rival Sons. Tonight, it’s the fifth new venue of the year and twenty second band I have not seen before. A full moon greets me and Graham on a cold Southsea seafront but there is the bonus of parking a few feet from the door. The Pyramids is essentially a leisure centre and the big room for tonight’s gig has a slight smell of chlorine from the swimming pool next door. It’s a real mix of ages tonight with old rockers like us along with... youngsters who have heard the hype and want to see what the fuss is about.
If you don’t know Rival Sons they hail from Californi-ay. They are a bit of a throw back and specialise is sixties and seventies hard rock from a blues base. I would compare a lot of their songs to that of Bad Company. Jay Buchanan possesses a classic rock voice starting with a large chunk of Paul Rodgers throw in some Robert Plant, a slice of Chris Cornell and a soupcon of Ryan Adams. I will happily argue that he probably has the best blues rock voice since the aforementioned Mr Rodgers.
They are four albums in and tonight the usual four piece are joined by a chum on the Hammond which really adds some depth to the set. The first hour is an onslaught of hard rock, with little pleasantries or banter, stunning guitar solos, great harmonies and I loved it. It took me and Graham back thirty years to the early metal gigs we went to in the 80s.
If you like your rock full of heavy riffs and cheesy lyrics then Rival Sons are for you. Early highlights include Electric Man which is essentially just a chorus repeated several times but it somehow works. I think Big Al you will love em.
It’s hot inside the venue and exhausting work just watching them perform. As the band relax the solos get heavier and theres much more engagement with the audience who respond accordingly. There’s even time for a drum solo just to highlight their traditional rock heritage which brings a wry smile to these two old metalers.
The encore features a stunning version of Jordan which highlighted the full range of Buchannan’s voice.
But tonight is not all about a constant heavy metal wall of sound, there’s great moments of light and shade within the set with the whole band harmonising on several tracks.
All in all the perfect antidote to the cold outside and we leave with a belly full of rock to feast on for a few hours at least.
A forty something musing over the things that matter.