Rival Sons & Dirty Honey – King George’s Hall, Blackburn – 2nd July 2022
Rival Sons open the door to the promised land. Dirty Honey are on the other side. The Californians appear right at home in deepest Lancashire…
With the “always see the support band…always see the support band…” mantra pounding away with each step around the side of the KG Hall, the queues at both entrance doors seem to suggest that others are of the same mind. We could convince ourselves, that the cracking ATB review of their EP / LP release might have something to do with it, although the fact that there’s a buzz around Dirty Honey is more likely – bandwagon jumpers that we are.
They take to the stage with AC/DC’s Rock And Roll Damnation signalling the intent, the backdrop of their huge logo that;s built up around a big mouth, more emphasis on the teeth than the tongue that lolls from a very famous inspiration.
Talking of which, how about a couple of reference points that strike us as the quartet fairly rip through a choice selection from their catalogue. Singer Marc Labelle, complete with the first wide brimemd hat of the evening, has a bit of The Temperance Movement’s Phil Campbell about him – slightly less manic jagger moves though – and guitarist John Notto overflows with a confident strut; his low slung Les Paul and shades reminiscent of a certain J.P.Page in his swaggering youth. The Smolian/Coverstone rhythm section is heavy of hair and fills the sound with rock solid roots for a set that’s already familiar with much of the crowd. The proof comes as they sing along with Heartbreaker only three songs in as Labelle makes the first of several forays to the lip of the stage and beyond. It happens again on Califormia Dreamin’ before they offer a brief breather with Another Last Time.
A powerful and pumping set, the perfect warm up, it’s a brilliant nine song cameo is saturated with classic riffing of the highest order. The only (slight) disappointment is that we don’t get their souped up version of Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy. Perhaps when they do a full set that would be an ideal encore party piece. For now though, they make sure we remember the name for future reference.
Rival Sons of course, are players in the big league who have a confident and established presence; not only a high profile abut a similar propensity for big hats. It’s been ten years-ish since their second album Pressure & Time. appeared. Time hasn’t diminished its impact or the flame of the heavy blues rock template that was the set to help the band breakthrough. It’s also three years since Feral Roots, so mindful of the fact that we could well do with some new songs (hang on in there though…), the decision is to come back from the enforced break with something that’s going to kick some ass.
Lest we forget, Jay Buchanan and Scott Holiday remain very much the focal point. Jay showing exactly how to wear a three piece suit without a shirt or socks while shimmying about the stage and throwing lead singer shapes. Scot – well, is he one of, if not the, coolest guitar slinger on the planet? In the absence of spotlights, what else could be the excuse for donning the de rigeur wide brimmed hat and shades except for simple looking cool. The waxed ‘tache and elegant dress code are pure class.
Talking fo which, amidst a barrage of flashing backlights, they kick into a full run through of that iconic album. Third song in, the title track maintains the excitement of having RS onstage again, with that monster riff and Buchanan is yelping away as the crowd are in full voice on backing vocals, chanting the “giving it up” line. Get Mine is all power blues pop with a retro vibe and it feels like a non stop barrage until they reach the finale of the set. Rounding off with Face Of Light, that might just be their ‘Zepp-y-esque’ four minutes worth, amidst the bluster and explosive riffs plus the heavy\hefty rock of White Noise, this is ‘raise your lighters’ (or the modern and heath & safety equvalinet. alternative of camera phone lights, anthem territory. Mike Miley brings the drum part to the fore as the guitar jangle and with those ten tracks of Pressure & Time are polished off, the boys take a break.
When they return, the second set is visceral. Particularly the initial sequence. Too Bad suggests that whatever they’ve had in that brief break, I want some. However, it’s the The Great Western Valkyrie pairing of open My Eyes and Electric Man that are devastating and get prolonged ovations. The band seem genuinely touched and overcome by the love that’s heading stagewards and Holiday has to bring a halt with the Electric Man riff. Like Baden-Powell’s cub scouts, they’re riding along on the crest of a wave and with a trio of Feral Roots cuts reminding us of where they left off, they close out with a pacey new song – Nobody Wants To Die – a frantic dash of hard rock and Flying V.
The audience laps up the energy that pours from the stage. An evening of reaffirmation and rededication from two bands who’ve returned with aplomb at the top of their game.
Categories: Live Reviews