Sweaty, no-frills rock and roll is the order of the night and the marriage of Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons in Glasgow’s Classic Grand is one which is perfect. As the familiar strains of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” announces their arrival, they hit the ground running with “Step into the Fire” from last year’s The Age of Absurdity. By the time the first song is finished, despite this only being night two of their current run, there’s already a sense that the band have upped their game – again.
Blending Bastard Sons songs with inclusions from Campbell’s recent debut solo effort in the shape of “These Old Boots” and “Straight Up”, we’re also treated to a handful of Motörhead numbers. It doesn’t matter their origin, each track is welcomed with a hearty response, the crowd lapping up the masterclass of hard rock prowess from Campbell Sr and his bandmates. Having seen the band a number of times, it’s never been about Phil Campbell relying on past glories and trading on his own stock. It’s about playing great original material whilst paying homage to his roots, none more so than when the band play their staple version of “Silver Machine”. Because let’s be real: no Hawkwind, no Motörhead, no Bastard Sons.
It’s a set all about the band and the audience having as much fun as possible with the crowd as active as they can be for the majority of the night. The first half of the set may be about them warming up whilst still ensuring they’re giving it their all, the mid-point of the darker and only sombre point of the night in “Dark Days” with its dirtier and brooding tones introduces the second half – an all-out assault of riffs. This is immediately apparent with “Get on Your Knees”, complete with the standard splitting of the crowd for Team Phil Campbell versus Team Bastard Sons and screaming the phrase at each other. For those wondering, Team Phil Campbell won – standard, really.
A cover of The Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” segues beautifully into Motörhead’s “R.A.M.O.N.E.S”. And it’s the last couple of songs which sees both band and crowd kick it up another notch with “Ace of Spades” and “Ringleader”. However, it’s the encore which brings some of the most interesting choices of the night with “Big Mouth” before the one-two punch of Motörhead songs that aren’t usually in the repertoire of the Bastard Sons: “Lost Woman Blues” and “Killed By Death”. The bluesy tones of the former suits the band perfectly and shows even that late into their career, Lemmy, Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell were capable of writing instant classics. And of course, the finale allows the band to end the night on a high.
Regardless of the material they were performing, you could see the band were enjoying themselves. With all five of them at the top of their game, they came together to give their best performance to date. And if this is what they’re like now, they’ll be even better on the last night of the tour. However, none of this should ever be in doubt because as a band, Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons are simply one which never lets you down. It’s a love letter to rock music, showing there’s still plenty of juice in the tank.