Gig Review of Rival Sons, Blues Pills and Jameson at The Ritz Manchester
Just before Christmas I attended a gig in Manchester at The Ritz on Whitworth Street West. A venue I hadn't been in for a number of years, in fact I was a student nurse last time I "partied" there. The place has hardly changed if I am honest and has some very good, and some bad memories.
Built in 1928 by the architects Cruickshank and Seaward, Grade-II listed The Ritz was originally a dance hall for Manchester. With its sprung dance floor and revolving stage, The Ritz was one of the most popular destinations for anyone passing through Manchester during the 1930s and 40s.
With the decline of classic dancing and the emergence of pop and rock n roll music The Ritz was transformed in to a live music venue even hosting The Beatles in the 1960s. It still kept its style however, and with that allowed for artists such as Frank Sinatra to play shows there.
The Ritz also hosted the Dancing In The Dark night with Phillip Moss throughout the 1950s and 60s, who was the band master for 17 years and known as ‘The King of The Ritz’. It is thought that he was responsible for many of the families and marriages in Manchester at the time, as radio presenter Fred Fielder explains:
“People said he was responsible for half the population of Greater Manchester, because his band would play Dancing In Dark nights. For the last dance of the evening the lights would go down. Couples would have a kiss and cuddle on the dance floor, end up going steady, then eventually getting married and have children.”
The Ritz went through a £2 million refurbishment in 2011 when bought by HMV. While many of the old creaks and crannies were fixed up it still stayed true to its image as an old dancehall, even keeping the old curved, bouncy floor.
Since the 1990s The Ritz has seen artists such as R.E.M., The Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys, Snow Patrol, Adam And The Ants, Dropkick Murphys and more recently The Weeknd and Johnny Marr. The Ritz also hosts regular club nights appealing to the vast Manchester student crowd.
And not least Rival Sons. I watched the show from the balcony and had a good view of the bands for the most part.
First up to play was Jameson, they describe their genre as Americana and I can't argue with that really. The line up for the band is Jameson Burt - vocals and much more, David Beste - bass guitar and Dallas Kruse - keyboards, from Santa Ana, California.
Their influences are described as Kate Bush, Tom Waits, Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, Michael Jackson, bourbon, cold weather and sleep deprivation. You can find Jameson on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, youtube and soundcloud.
Next up was another band I had never seen or heard of before called Blues Pills from Sweden. They describe their genre as being a mixture of Blues, Rock and Soul. The band's line up consists of Elin Larsson performing Vocals, Dorian Sorriaux - Guitar, Zack Anderson - Bass and finally André Kvarnström on the Drums.
In December 2011 the moment we´ve had all been waiting for saw the light of day. Elin Larsson, Cory Berry and Zack Anderson, all just in their early Twenties, formed a group which would quickly become one of the most acclaimed and interesting bands in music. Behold the birth of a new musical experience, an experience we thought was long gone, lost in time and space. Behold the birth of BLUES PILLS.
The young American-Swedish-French quartet created a very unique, intense and extraordinary rock atmosphere while at the same time having a major mainstream appeal that takes you right back to the time of BLUES PILLS’ ancestors Aretha Franklin, The Original Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Cream. Driving bass lines, grooving drums and guitar solos from another planet by the then only 17 year old Dorian Sorriaux, harmonised and tied together with such easiness, such delight, by Elin’s incredible voice, sometimes singing in her mother tongue Swedish.
I can attest to how very powerful and extraordinary Elin's voice is. The first thing I did was order their album, but nothing could recreate how powerful the band sounds live. You certainly need to get along to one of their gigs, and I hope to see them in Spring this year when they return to the UK to tour. Their set was
High Class Woman
Ain't No Change
No Hope Left For Me
Little Sun / Outro
Make an effort to see these guys in concert, amazing vocals and amazing set, my own favourite being High Class Woman.
I couldn't wait to see this band live as I have all their albums, including the very hard to find one that was Indie produced prior to the band being signed by Earache Records entitled Before the Fire.
Jay,( originally a blues singer), was persuaded to sing with the band after Scott Holiday saw him perform on MySpace. Rival Sons was the first rock band Jay Buchanan had sung with and he was initially skeptical as a blues singer songwriter and looked at the band as a side project. He was surprised by the reaction and the success the band received with their debut self-released album Before The Fire (2009) I am SO glad he did, and so are many others.
The band are Rock and Roll at it's most excellent and have been compared to many of the legends of rock and roll including Led Zep, and also made me think of a cross Robert Plant and Morrison.
The lineup for the band is Jay Buchanan on vocals, Scott Holiday - guitar, Michael Miley on drums, and Dave Beste on bass from Long Beach, Southern California. On tour they were accompanied by Todd Ögren-Brooks on keyboards. The live performance was utterly amazing and sent shivers down my spine and had me dancing, singing and tapping my feet. I am hard pressed to give you my favourite but, Keep on Swinging, Pressure and Time and of course Guitar Man have to be pretty near the top of the list.
This is their set list for the show and Jay's powerful vocals kept us mesmerised through out with his powerful, well thought out emotive vocals.
You Want To
All Over the Road
Pressure and Time
Manifest Destiny, Part 1
Rich and the Poor
Where I've Been
Tell Me Something
Get What's Coming
Open My Eyes
Face of Light / Sacred Tongue
Keep On Swinging
Although a friend called Nobby was upset that Burn Down Los Angeles wasn't played in the encore, but something has to give I suppose.
Rival Sons were placed 17th by Metro weekly
Classic Rock Magazine readers vote RIVAL SONS best album of the 2014!
Scott Holiday was also declared recently Guitarist of the Year by guitarplanet.
Rival Sons also made Total Guitar’s top 20 albums of the year list!
The accolades just keep rolling in. I think Rival Sons will have to find some big venues for 2015 and beyond.
I eagerly anticipate watching Rivals Sons when they return to the UK this Spring.