Review by Adrian Peel with Photography by Adriana Vasile

Californian blues rockers Rival Sons have been doing their thing now for 10 years and during that time have steadily grown in popularity, putting out six albums – the most recent of which, the well-received ‘Feral Roots’, was released earlier this year – and expanding their fanbase.

Rival Sons (1)

Things got off to a solid start, the explosive ‘End of Forever’ off the new record was an inspired choice of opener. Looking every inch the rock star with his long hair, slightly flared trousers, cowboy boots and wide-brimmed hat, singer Jay Buchanan showcased his stunning voice further on the groovy ‘Secret’ and on the outstanding ‘Pressure and Time’ – the song of the evening.

Despite their immense skill as musicians – guitarist Scott Holiday is a true master of the instrument – the group struggled to maintain that initial flurry of brilliance, as some rather mediocre musical moments followed.

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Rival Sons (4)

These included the dreaded drum solo – that unfortunate staple of classic rock – which fortunately didn’t go on for too long. Looking out over the crowd, however, it seemed that for many, the band could do no wrong – and more good songs did come our way in the first half, most noticeably ‘Tied Up’.

Among the less infectious material, there were some high points, including some great slide guitar work on ‘Where I’ve Been’ and some impressive harmonica, courtesy of Jay Buchanan, on ‘Sleepwalker’.

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Rival Sons (11)

It was a shame that some of the songs I’d been listening to religiously on YouTube in the week leading up to the gig – ‘Sugar on the Bone’ in particular – didn’t make the cut, but two that did were the emphatic ‘Open My Eyes’ and the pulsating ‘Electric Man’, surely one of the best rock songs of the last 10 years.

There was no talking at all from the band for most of the show (by no means a bad thing) until right before ‘Shooting Stars’ when Buchanan asked the crowd for our help, saying: “I want you to sing with me on this next song.” We obliged.

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Rival Sons (17)

When they’re good, they’re really good – one of the best young classic rock bands around, in fact – but I just found quite a few of the songs in tonight’s set a bit so-so.

Rival Sons (18)

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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