This has been a fun week. Only a few days ago did I get the pleasure of seeing heavy metal veterans Saxon, Fastway and Girlschool on stage. Now I was back in Glasgow, this time to see the old school rock enthusiasts Blues Pills and their support bands Kadavar and Stray Train.
I took the time to admire the band’s merchandise. Both Blues Pills and Kadavar had some fantastic T-Shirt designs, lots of different colours, stunning art designs and good cheap prices. It was nice to pick up a tour T-shirt that wasn’t a complete rip off. Since I like to support the bands, I picked up a fantastic Blues Pills shirt for £18 and sighed at my empty wallet when I saw the almost gothic designs for Kadavar. I haven’t seen merchandise look this eye catching since our time seeing Ghost at the 02 ABC a year or so ago now.
The venue that we were in was The Classic Grand theatre in the centre of Glasgow. The outside was littered with stale vomit, large amounts of urine stains and the ghastly smell of the local McDonalds. It strongly resembled the life of a football fan, bleugh. How anyone could eat that shite is beyond me, even without the lingering smell of death outside. To get to the venue area, we had to climb a hefty amount of stairs. After some huffing and puffing we eventually made it into this almost dank looking venue. It has obviously seen better days, possibly in its glory years as a porn cinema. But the room itself had an appealing style to it, it would look like a smashing little venue if it were to be cleaned up.
Stray Train took to the stage fairly early and it didn’t take thirty seconds to realise that these guys had a lot of talent. They played a fun short set that focused on primarily basic hard rock. The band had a great rhythm section with a drummer who did a great job of pounding out a simple rhythm without reducing it to the Meg White basics. He provided a good stable groove for the two guitarists and the bassist. These guys had a great sound as they rocked some very tasteful riffs and the odd solo. Unfortunately, due to the early time not a lot of people showed up in time to see them play. There was maybe twenty people in the hall at the time which is a crying shame. Of all the opening band’s this year, I think these guys have to be the best one yet.
When the band left the stage and we were anticipating the set from Kadavar, I noticed that Blues Pills lead singer Elin Larsson was wondering through the crowd in a dark hooded over coat. What got me about this is that I don’t think more than three or four people even noticed. That was a little odd, especially considering the amount of creepy old men that came out the wood works later on, but more on that later.
Next up on stage was the monstrous German three piece Kadavar. This Berlin trio were about as unsubtle as you’ll get in the rock and metal scene. They came on supporting long hair (or what is left of it), equally long beards and rocked the hell out of their instruments for what I think was a good hour. These guys had a fantastic clear sound that really helped get their music across. They sounded louder and heavier than most bands I have heard in such a small space for a long time. I think this was down to the fact that the band is made up of guitar, bass and drums only. That basic sound gave the instruments room, not one of them got drowned out and it really sounded fantastic. Their set, for me personally got a bit tiresome by the end. I found it to be a little bit repetitive, but I wouldn’t take anything away from what they did that night. These guys are a great live band and I would most definitely like to see them again.
The stage was quickly emptied and it didn’t take long for Blues Pills to hit the stage with a rousing applause. The group immediately jumped to their instruments as they awaited for their lead singer. Elin jumped onto the stage with a serious amount of energy and a very tasteful small outfit. Within seconds you could see all the teenage boys and dirty old men rush the front of the stage, that is rather disturbing if you ask me. Anyway, the band immediately jumped into the fantastic lead single and title track from their new album, Lady In Gold. This is a great catchy little number that boasts a great groove and a chorus that is impossible to not sing a long to. The song also featured the first of many sizzling hot guitar solos from the band’s six stringer, Dorian Sorriaux.
Over the course of the set we were treated to the likes of Little Boy Preacher, Bad Talkers, Bliss and Little Woman. I loved the fact that Blues Pills rocked a lot of the newer material, most of which were a lot heavier in terms of sound and even in terms of improvisation. There were a number of straggler fans who moaned, complained and cried that the new album, Lady In Gold contained very few guitar solos. Well you moaning bastards, here they are! Naturally the band couldn’t go on stage without playing two blistering versions of High Class Woman and Devil Man with Ain’t No Change sandwiched between the two. The band left the stage so Elin could go solo and play the stunning piano ballad, I Felt A Change. This is one of the best tracks on the bands new album and it really came across well live. Clearly the song is an emotional one with the feelings showing on Larsson’s face as she belted out this wonderful song. The set closed with two cracking renditions of Rejection and Gone So Long. My memory is a little hazy but I believe the speakers were blaring Epitaph by King Crimson on the way out, but maybe I am mistaken.
I have been bragging about this band to family and friends for about two years now about how good this group is and I am far from being disappointed. The band know how to sound powerful and loud (very loud!) as well as technically skilled. They put on a great show in terms of improvisation with it being an absolute joy to watch Dorian Sorriaux. I love his subtle movements whilst playing the guitar. A flick of wrist here and a wave of his arm there as he throws out those wonderful lead guitar solos. That guy is a legend in the making and you can quote me on that.
People tend to reference this band as The Elin Larsson show, but that is further from the truth. She is a wonderful singer, she may actually be one of the finest singers I have seen live and that is saying something. But there is more to this band than the beautiful front woman. Blues Pills as a band deserves a lot more credit with the way each musician put their heart and soul into the music. A lot of bands can play this type of rock music, so many of them do it extremely well but very few of them provide the energy and emotion that we got last night and that is something I have to commend Blues Pills for.
I do my best to catch all my favourite bands in concert when they come to Scotland and I can say without any doubt that Blues Pills has made its way onto that list. The approach was brutal and rather simple but the results were one of the best live shows I have seen this year, even topping the cracking Saxon show last weekend.