Gig Review and Photography by Mark Loraine

Rival Sons

I had only heard a couple of tracks by the Rival Sons prior to asking to cover this gig and was hoping, as we all do when we build up to something, that they were going to impress. They didn’t disappoint – indeed they surpassed themselves in every way!

Rival SonsRival Sons

Another assumption I had made, wrongly as it goes, was that they were a band that would only attract a half decent crowd at The Leadmill. Now if you have never been to The Leadmill, well for starters you should, but if and when you do make the trip to wonderful Sheffield you will find that this place is quite compact, dark and a really fantastic venue. Tonight Rival Sons, against all my expectations, packed the place to the roof. Indeed it was so full it was difficult to even get in the pit to photograph the band. I struggled on though as you can see.

Rival SonsRival Sons

Rival Sons hail from Long Beach and are on the UK leg of their tour promoting their latest album Great Western Valkyrie. Released to great acclaim in June this year, the album is the bands fourth and to me, most accomplished to date.

Rival SonsRival Sons

Hitting the stage it soon became apparent that vocalist Jay Buchanan is real front man material. A certain amount of theatrics underpins his stage presence and the drama that he exudes is pretty intense – his trousers were pretty special too ! Guitarist Scott Holliday also plays a part in this theatrical production, sporting a fabulous late Edwardian moustache and beard, he fills the stage on his own.

But enough of appearance – on to the music.

For me Rival Sons sound just like a rock band should be, this doesn’t mean they are run of the mill, No it rather means that what they do fits perfectly to the expectation… loud, raucous and committed fully to the music they produce. From the opening chords of “You Want To” through a set list that includes tracks from pretty much all four albums, to the final three track encore, they produce an impressive sound throughout.

Rival SonsRival Sons

Jay Buchanan’s vocals have a soaring aspect to them which though a little understated on their recordings really kicks in Live… backed by the ringing, grinding guitar sound produce by Holliday, they live up to what other reviewers have described as blues rock comparable to Led Zeppelin, Free and The Doors among many others. My impression is yes they do fit the comparison, but they are much more and certainly more up to date than their ancestors.

Rival SonsRival Sons

Are the crowd impressed? – hell yes. Throughout the set the whole place is jumping and as the band head through they include one of my faves, Electric Man, they are truly mesmerised by the performance.
I expected much of this performance and as I stated at the beginning they did not disappoint… in fact they blew The Leons – Leadmilladmill away. Truly!

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