My liking for Rival Sons has been rocky, after a great EP with an issue of Classic Rock, I was delighted to hear they were the support act for Black Stone Cherry’s best performance (that Academy gig a couple of years back). They started well and then quickly nose-dived.
However, after hearing a few songs on the internet radio back and forth, I decided to give them another shot and I began to like their stuff. Then Great Western Valkyrie was released at the start of summer along with a last-minute addition to this year’s Download line-up. A great performance from them but still nothing extraordinary. In hindsight, I’d chalk that up to a short set. But I bought a ticket for last night, regardless. And since, I’ve listened to the most recent album back and forth and honestly, it’s brilliant. So I figured we were in for a treat, especially with new find Blues Pills opening for them.
A couple of beers with friends and we caught the last song of warm-up act Jameson before the changeover for Blues Pills. Before I knew it, the band took to the stage and they rattled through much of their debut album, taking time to mention they’re back in April. Three songs into their set and it was obvious that Elin Larsson’s voice is far superior in a live setting. It was one of those performances that cause your neck hairs to stand on edge. Needless to say, I’ll be at the Cathouse in April.
Another changeover and Rival Sons took to the stage, hitting with a couple of older songs “You Want To” and “Pressure and Time” to warm up the crowd before starting on the new material in earnest. The majority of Great Western Valkyrie was played and it speaks volumes as to how good that album is. Had they played the entire album, I wouldn’t have complained. Mid-way through, they treated us to “Manifest Destiny Pt. 1”.
Scott Holiday led the rest of the band on a quick jam session, opening my eyes to the quality of his guitar skills during his solo. Meanwhile, Jay Buchanan didn’t take much time to speak with the audience, preferring to dive into the next song. However, he did remark before “Where I’ve Been” that he was trying to introduce this song at every show, declaring everyone was a sinner and that childhood alone should damn us for eternity. The songs itself plays on the doubt people have, questioning if they deserve happiness despite their actions. Nevertheless, it was a moving performance before they moved onto some older material, including “Get What’s Coming”.
However, it was at this point I had to call a halt to the night and catch the last train home. Damn ScotRail and their shit Sunday services. Sadly I missed the encore which consisted of the fantastic “Open My Eyes” from the newest album and some of their older songs.
Honestly, given what I saw, it was enough to draw a conclusion. I’m saddened that I never got to see the full thing but it was spectacular. The band had the audience at their mercy. For me, it finally clicked. It was one of those performances which spoke to my being. I thought I had decided what the best performances of the year were. Then, last night happened.