Reputation has it that Wille & The Bandits are even better live than they are recorded. Having already listened to – and reviewed – the band’s latest album, Steal, that’s a pretty big claim. Now, having seen their gig at The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Music Rooms, ‘better’ is a quantifiable assessment. The fact is Wille & The Bandits are every bit as superb live as they are recorded and then some.
Deep Purple are huge fans of the Cornwall based trio, as is Joe Bonamassa. Yet only is it when they begin that the eclectic dynamism of their playing – and the solid strength of their full 2 hour set – truly hits home so that to have a support would only curtail the beauty of that which transpires.
Will Edwards’ vocals are all gravel and sweet syrup; his skills on the guitar, lap slide and Dobro exemplary. Yet it is his simple passion for being on stage that shines most. Watch him during Scared of the Sun from the new album or playing old school blues from Robert Johnson with Crossroad and you can feel the love seep from every pore; his eyes closed in harmony with the music; his hair flailing in synchronicity. From first to last, this is a master class in how performance rock / blues / prog / music in general should be performed but, with all this said, the night is not made by Edwards’ performance alone.
Matt Brooks’ bass, with more pedals at his feet than is possibly imaginable, and Andrew Naumann’s in turns thunderous then at other moments almost understated drums and percussion, lift the gig to higher plains whilst at the same time adding a depth, purity and resonance that is astounding.
Mammon from Breakfree and Forgiveness from Grow are utterly magnificent, with Brooks’ control of the 5 String Double Bass and Naumann’s joyous playing of the Tongue Drums making these two tracks hum and buzz as though a whole nest of hornets has been invited to the party. And then there is their cover of Santana’s Black Magic Woman to underline still further what a tight-knit, entirely zoned in unit the band are.
Stand out moments are almost too many to mention. However Crossfire Memories, Galloping Horses and the quite sublime instrumental Angel – written for Edwards’ late mother and an emotionally rolling, living breathing tribute it is too – are all seared into the memory banks for all time.
Closing on the anthemic 1970 has the audience – in this most intimate, wonderfully acclimatised venue that provides digital quality sound par excellence – on its feet and smiling into the night after queuing eagerly at the Merch stand in their droves.
A fabulous set provided by an incredible band, Wille & The Bandits deserve everything they have headed their way, which is bound to be even more – and even greater – recognition.
Got To Do Better
Scared of the Sun
Black Magic Woman
Jack the Lad