It’s Friday night in London; the working week is at an end and it’s time to switch off for the weekend and unwind. What better way can this be done? Well, the answer is simple: an evening with the mighty Rival Sons and their blues/hard rock musical fusion that is unique to them alone.
Supported by L.A. Edwards, a group hailing from California comprised of vocalist Luke Andrew Edwards and his brothers Jay Edwards on guitar and Jerry Edwards on drums. Sadly, and with many shows that involve navigating myself from work to the venue, I only obtained a snippet of what L.A. Edwards had to offer at the tail end of their set; however, their brand of southern country rock was a breath of fresh air which permeated through the Roundhouse filling the venue with positive vibes and perfectly setting the mood for Rival Sons.
Following the interval between bands, Rival Sons took to the stage to cheers from adoring fans as they kicked their set off with “Mirrors” from their most recent release, Darkfighter. (Read our recent album review here.) This was quickly followed by “Do Your Worst” and “Electric Man,” ensuring that several eras of the band’s output were covered in quick succession. All three tracks had the subdued intensity to them that Rival Sons pulls off so very well, ensuring the crowd was suitably energized for the entirety of the performance. It was at this point Rival Sons slowed the pace of the show with another new track from Darkfighter, “Rapture,” with vocalist Jay Buchanan breaking out his acoustic guitar to add additional depth to this soulful tune that had the entirety of the venue singing along.
The tempo of the show picked up slightly for the funk-infused “Bird in the Hand,” which ensured the audience was swaying along with the tune. It was at this point Buchanan took the opportunity to address the fans with a rather cryptic description of his thoughts on forgiveness, telling a story of a few friends who struggled to forgive themselves. The tail set the mood for the incredibly emotional rendition of “Where I’ve Been.” This was promptly followed by “Open My Eyes,” accompanied by a drum solo from Mike Miley. In my experience, solos of this nature have a tendency to outstay their welcome, but with credit to Miley, he ensured his moment to shine was perfectly timed, ensuring fans enjoyed his skills without expressing annoyance.
Of course, with their next record, Lightbringer, about to drop, it was inevitable a selection of songs would need to be on offer. First came the live debut of “Mercy,” a track that had already been available to fans to experience. The funk riffing from guitarist Scott Holiday was well received as the crowd sang along with every note. Next, though, was the wildcard moment, the debut performance of the closing track from Lightbringer, the slow and perfectly paced “Mosaic”.
It is always a risk to deliver a completely unknown song to fans live, however, the attendees at the Roundhouse took to the track with delightful acceptance like it had been with them all along. To demonstrate their gratitude for being afforded the opportunity to deliver a completely unknown song, Rival Sons rewarded the crowd with the fan favourite, “Feral Roots,” giving the crowd the chance to once again sing and dance along to a tune they were familiar with. This was then followed up by a real blast from the past, “Face of Light,” accompanied by a guitar solo from Holiday. Like Miley’s drum solo, Holiday ensured his moment in the sun was not too extensive.
As the show began to come to its inevitable conclusion, Buchanan took another opportunity to address the crowd and express his sorrow at the current conflicts taking place around the world, even going as far as to apologize on behalf of us all. This introduced his solo moment as he was left along with his acoustic guitar, the crowd and a rendition of “Shooting Stars” that was tear-jerkingly beautiful and had the entirety of the Roundhouse singing along in unity.
The show closed with “Darkside” and “Keep Swinging,” ensuring the night finished with a bang. Rival Sons delivered a captivating show that was eclectic in nature, ensuring that their full range was on display. If anyone feels differently about the above assessment, I would ask if we were at the same show!
Rival Sons London Set List:
2. Do Your Worst
3. Electric Man
5. Bird in the Hand
6. Where I’ve Been
7. Open My Eyes
8. Pressure and Time
9. Sweet Life
12. Feral Roots
13. Face of Light
14. Shooting Stars
16. Keep on Swinging
For more information on Rival Sons visit their Official Website.