Possibly one of the hardest working bands as they always seem to be on tour somewhere at any given time, Southampton was the last night of their UK tour and Rival Sons were sounding better than ever.
The London Souls are in fact from New York, even though the name sounds decidedly British and keeping up with current trends, are a two piece. Playing rock but with a touch of a blues and sometimes slightly on the funky side, the band played a powerful set. With raw vocals and some great harmonies, the injection of a blues sound to some of their tracks gave some great guitar hooks, whilst the drums formed the backbone of the songs, sometimes producing a beat all of its own making, that made it a great combination. Sometimes moving on to a fuzzy guitar riff, and with the occasional drum solo to finish off a track, The London Souls were a great start to the evening.
Rival Sons are never going to be a band that comes on stage, play songs like the album version as what you get with them is a whole different experience live, where they have the ability to expand on their sound with additional touches to the songs and you are never going to see them same style of set twice, which makes them compelling to watch. Joined again for the tour by keyboard player Todd which adds an extra dimension to their sound, ‘Electric Man’ started the evening as the sublime vocals of Jay Buchanan echoed around the venue. Taking himself into an almost trance like state at times, with additional flourishes to the vocals, ‘Play The Fool’ had a delicious bluesy vibe to it, but it was on ‘Torture’ that we were treated to more of those solo vocals, as the band stopped playing and Jay sang on his own to the crowd, as they joined him during the chorus, feeling like both were at one during that moment.
With the addition of an acoustic interlude from the band, the double bass, acoustic guitar and cajon forming the basis of the songs, the stripped back sound on ‘Nava’ was every bit as good live, and the whole acoustic set had an ethereal quality to it. Never a band to say much to the crowd, it was all about the songs, as Scott, Dave, Mike and Todd played some excellent extended jamming on a number of their tracks, that was incredibly polished as you would expect from a band that spend so much time on the road. With the excellent guitars on ‘The Rich And The Poor’ this brought the band back into their electric set and you couldn’t be anything but impressed by the power of Jay’s vocals live, ranging from angelic to raw but was always sung with an incredible amount of emotion, especially on ‘Where I’ve Been’, which was a mesmerising performance. Picking up the pace, ‘Get What’s Coming’ with its delicious bluesy riffs and guitars was a powerful end to their set.
Keeping up the pace in the encore with the popular ‘Open Your Eyes’, you felt the drums as they pounded the venue, and the song sounded immense live. Thanking every one for coming out to see them and for so much support, ‘Keep On Swinging’ was the final song of the evening, as it increased in volume and intensity throughout. Once again Rival Sons had managed to delight, surprise, even make you feel you were part of the whole experience rather than just there to listen to the music, and there aren’t many bands around that can do that, which is what makes them outstanding to see live.