Rival Sons, L.A.Edwards – Manchester Academy – 18th October 2023
The Pressure & Time album tour in Blackburn last Summer with Dirty Honey providing sound support, was our most recent encounter with Rival Sons. New music has since arrived in the form of Darkfighter and Lightbringer, a two album, ‘Use Your Illusion’ style release and the guys are back on the road with the Darkfighter tour hitting the UK although it’s Lightbringer release week as they hit Manchester.
They’re keen to show off the new styling tweaks so new songs pepper a set that shows how far Rival Sons have travelled from their heavy blues rock roots. It’s an anthemic Mosaic from Lightbringer that (almost) closes proceedings with an uplifting crescendo, while Darkfighter offers up the grinding Rock that emerges from the chapel organ scene setting texture in Mirrors that sees Scott Holiday taking to the stand-mounted acoustic guitar at the appropriate times. He cuts a dashing figure in his riverboat gambler styling. Dress suit, shades and wide-brimmed hat make for a sharp look while Jay Buchanan matches to some degree, yet slightly more wayward with his ‘part suit’ flamboyance.
Nobody Wants To Die keeps up the furious pace and perfect fare for the likes of a cinematic car chase – Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible beware, yet they concede to offering up Bright Light and Darkside that offer a more subdued alternative. The former fitting neatly with the blues interlude that Jordan offers and then there’s the curveball of Heavy Glam Rock with a Beatle-y acoustic drop in during Bird In The Hand.
With what’s now amounting to an impressive back catalogue from which to select, they dig deep to uncover a drum solo that heads into Radio as the catalogue gets a deep dive with Mikey Miley working overtime on a brisk shuffle. Those Blues Rock influences rise to the surface as Great Western Valkyrie offers up some bone shaking frisson and the cream of Pressure & Time is retained.
Speaking of which, as the set has benefitted from some juggling during the tour, the shock of opening the set with a totally unexpected Manifest Destiny Part 1 more than made up for not featuring Torture in the Manchester set. It must surely mean Manchester is something special to the guys from Long Beach who are likely allowing themselves a self satisfied smile – ‘take that Manchester!’ – as they decide to honour us with the chills and goosebumps that kick in as the monolith of a riff emerges for an exercise in brooding darkness. Not many bands play a showcase number out of the blocks, but Rival Sons have the balls to go for it.
Support tonight and on the tour is from the smartly dressed L.A.Taylor, fronted by songwriter and singer Luke Edwards. The band that gets its name from the main man who shares the stage with family members. Direct from California, there’s a typical West coast ease about the songs they choose for their set. Indeed, the Tom Petty influence is strong – Heartbreakers bassist Ron Blair produced their True Blue album and the Heartbreakers rhythm section of Blair and Steve Ferrone both play on the Blessings From Home album.
Current album, Out Of The Heart Of Darkness, is the main focus with some nice electric twelve-string adding texture to the lead guitar lines and adds to the gentle Country rocking vibe and a dash of harmonica that enhances The Crow . There’s even a joke, slightly lost in the general hubbub, about ‘country bumpkins’.
There’s also a more intimate and tender moment as three of the band gather round the centre mic for a song “we wrote for our mum.” A bold but confident move in front of a healthy crowd. Maybe a tad more restrained than the headliners, but definitely pleasing on the ear and worth further investigation.