Visiting Bathgate’s Dreadnought Rock is always a welcome change from the usual venues in Glasgow or Edinburgh and whenever I’m there, it’s always a good value for money night. Having Voodoo Blood and Saints of Arcadia on one bill for the price of a pint was no exception to the rule. Having finally caught Voodoo Blood a few months back in Edinburgh but having to leave early due to public transport, tonight was a chance to right that wrong.
First up is Saints of Arcadia, no strangers to Scotland, or indeed the Dreadnought for that matter. Having missed their last couple of jaunts north of the border but hearing good things about them, I was keen to check them out for myself. Instantly, I’m hit with how they’re such a good fit for tonight’s headliners. Although taking a more melodic hard rock slant, there’s plenty of blues in there, too.
They may not be the most original sounding band on the planet but they make up for it with their technical prowess. With twin guitars crunching and squealing, meaty basslines and drums with the magnitude of a thunderstorm – it’s how hard rock should be. Throwing in a couple of covers for good measure, they also road test a brand new song as a treat for those who caught them here a few weeks previously. It’s as well-rehearsed as the rest of the material and is one of the highlights of their set.
Voodoo Blood take to the stage – or should that be explode onto it? Whilst I’ve seen the Dreadnought busier, the band clearly don’t care, excited to have the chance to perform. It quickly takes on the atmosphere of the band treating the lucky few in the know to an intimate show and giving everything they’ve got. Their steroid-fuelled blues hard rock impresses and captivates from the first note to the last. Loaded with energy, they waste no time in impressing with frontwoman Kim “The Voodoo Woman” Jennett refusing to stay still on stage, a blur for most of the night.
She continuously leaves the stage to join the assembled crowd as well as clambering over tables, chairs and the bar, she’s keen to make tonight an interactive one. With harsh, guttural screams interlaced with soulful elements, her vocals are on top form to the point where in a live setting, it’s brought to another level.
The band bring out songs from both their Anabolic Blues and Fresh Hell EPs, their single “Groove Medicine” and even treat the audience to some new songs. Much like the Fresh Hell material being stronger than the Anabolic Blues tracks, these new ones are proof of the band continuing to up their game.
Full of crunchy riffs from Sean Owens, it’s a sound you can only get from a Les Paul plugged into a Marshall. Balancing technical proficiency with swagger and nonchalance, his energy is focused on playing and rightly so when it’s this good. Meanwhile, Chris Norris’ bass lines are more akin to hooks clawing at your skin as they thrum throughout. Drummer Will Lewis gels perfectly with him and his solo towards the end is finessed and – more importantly – entertaining.
The band close out their set with a cover of “Johnny B. Goode”, a welcome change where similar bands would normally opt for the clichéd “Rock and Roll”. Voodoo Blood’s interpretation of the Chuck Berry song turn it into an absolute monster of a song with as much dedication to performing it as they do their own material.
An absolute force of nature, Voodoo Blood’s performance has to be seen to be believed. It’s a hard task to think of a tighter band at their level and with the songs to back it up, they’ll only get better. A return to the north is a must for them.