Last night Rival Sons returned to Glasgow, only three months after their last gig here. Back in December they played to a full O2 ABC, and this time around they made the step up to the bigger O2 Academy. It was a typical miserable day, freezing wind, torrential rain and I have the worst cold in the history of colds. If I had a quid for every sneeze I’d have retired. Total strangers were blessing me as I passed them! So I wasn’t in the mood for traipsing up the motorway, I just wanted my bed.
Shame on me, because this was the best I’ve ever seen Rival Sons and if I’d missed it I’d have really regretted it. There was a moment of clarity, when they played Where I’ve Been, when I realised that feeling ill or not, I was right to drag myself up there. The team here at Planetmosh, we’re an eclectic bunch. We don’t all listen to the same music, but we’re all in the team for the same reason. We give up our spare time to listen to albums, go to gigs, take photos and write reviews for nothing other than the love of it. Yes I know it’s cheesy, but I was in a crappy mood all day yesterday and it took Jay Buchanan and that voice to slap me round the face and remind me. I bloody love this band. Like I said, it’s only three months since they were here but the difference in them was noticeable. A few months away from touring seems to have done them the power of good. Jay has a voice that’s just a gift, it knocks me sideways every time I hear it, and last night it was paired with a childlike joy in what he was doing that was palpable. As Dave Beste and Scott Holiday met centre stage, guitars wailing, Jay was laughing, clapping his hands and jumping around in pure excitement. The crowd was feeding off it too, getting louder and louder until the noise was deafening.
First off though was New York duo The London Souls. There’s a lot of these two-piece bands around right now, guitarist and drummer. I’m thinking of the Graveltones and Royal Blood among others, but The London Souls were as good as any I’ve seen. The singer bears a striking resemblance to Gary Clark Jr. and seems to have just as much soul. Quite often support bands come and go but even though the weather had a lot of people arriving late The London Souls got a great reception and after the show everyone I heard talking about them was saying how much they enjoyed their performance. Definitely a name to remember, you’ll be hearing it again.
A short while later the theme from The Good The Bad and The Ugly heralded the arrival of the main event. Right from the off Rival Sons had the crowd in the palm of their hands, all five (I’m including keyboard player Todd Brooks here, as far as I’m concerned he’s as much a part of the band as anyone else) taking the stage resplendent in kilts. They wore it well, Scott matching it with his leather jacket, Jay in full Highland dress but all looking amazing. As they opened the set with my personal favourite Electric Man it was a hard job concentrating on taking photos, and at the end of the song I admit I gave up and was clapping and whooping along with the crowd. The band have made a few changes since the December tour, with the main one being the inclusion of an acoustic interlude mid-set. Now, I’m not a big fan of acoustic. If I go to a rock show I want electric guitars. So while I wouldn’t necessarily say it was my favourite section of the show I have to admit it isn’t a terrible idea.
It gave the crowd the chance to hear songs that are rarely played live, including White Noise and Burn Down Los Angeles, as the band gathered campfire style around Jay. Coming straight after the huge noise of Torture I felt the atmosphere could have dropped a little but the crowd seemed to love the acoustic set and by the end of it even I had to admit it was very well done. Then it was straight back into it with Rich and The Poor and Belle Starr before the aforementioned Where I’ve Been. This is where reviewing gets hard, because I have to try to put words to what that song does to me, and it’s just impossible. Think of a song you love so much, which is so beautiful it makes you cry in front of a thousand strangers and not care, and you’ll know what I mean. It’s stunning. The encore lifted the roof off the Academy, as everyone roared along to Open My Eyes, Pressure and Time and Keep on Swinging before the whole band gathered to take a bow, flash some arse (yes Todd, we noticed!) and leave the stage. As Jay said, we’ll be talking about this one for a while.
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