Gig Review: Thundermother / Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters / Häxan – Bannermans Bar, Edinburgh (6th April 2022)

The last time I saw Thundermother it was with a slightly different line up (including singer) back in 2014, but the girls are back at Bannermans with mainstay Filippa Nassil on guitar. But before the main event we have two top notch support bands to watch.

Haxan (c) Gary Cooper

First up we have, from South Wales, Häxan. Consisting of Sam Bolderson (vocals/guitar), Harriet Wadeson (bass) and Jess Hartley (drums) they are out promoting their fabulous 2020 debut album White Noise. The girls open up with “Nine Lives”, the first of five from that album tonight, and it’s clear they mean business. The drums pound in and Sam opens up on the guitar. She has a nice clear voice which carries the song along so well -a real rocky catchy opener, and a big sound for such a young trio.

The girls “Bring the Thunder” next from their 2017 Breaking Down the Walls EP, yet another catchy rock n’ roll number. Their songs are well structured earworms and it’s a joy to watch them really going for it on stage. “Killing Time” is next, a really well paced tune which goes down well with the crowd who are already packed in which is nice to see. “Grave Digger” thunders along before we are treated to “Black Sheep”, which takes on a heavier form live.

They end their short but very enjoyable set with “Skeletons”, with its hook-laden guitar, and a backbeat from the drums and bass that has the head and feet going. Very much having an early Girlschool vibe. If you have not heard or seen the band before, get out there and catch them live as they won’t be in small venues for long. They went down a storm tonight in front of a packed house.

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Beth Blade (c) Gary Cooper

Up next is a well known and enjoyable band, again from Wales – Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters who have been touring for a few years now and who are currently working on album number three.

We have old tunes, new tunes and even a cover thrown in the mix tonight as Beth throws more poses than a catwalk model with her Paul Stanley Ibanez. The band opens with the rocking “The Otherside”, swiftly followed by “Undo Me”, and then we get a couple from the excellent 2017 Bad Habit album. The title track first, with its crunching guitars carried along by Beth’s superb voice. We get all “Down and Dirty”, a real gritty track, before we head into 2019’s Show Me All Your Teeth with “Give it All You’ve Got”.

“I Ain’t Got Nothing” follows with its singalong chorus, a real crowd pleaser. The perfect choice of cover song now, as a tribute to the recent tragedy befalling the Foo Fighters. We get a truly heartfelt version of “Everlong” before they end their quick set with the pounding “Jack And Coke”.

This is the third time I have seen the band and they just keep getting better and better. They are tight and on fire tonight. How Beth never pulled a muscle I’ll never know. This is another band to really catch live when you can, your head and feet will thank you for it!

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The headliners are up next, and we have a new version of Thundermother tonight – apart from the ever present Filippa.

They open with the thunderous “Whatever” from 2018’s Thundermother as the rock n’ roll starts and does not stop all night. The venue is bouncing, the sweat is dripping from the ceiling (not uncommon at Bannermans as I’m sure many of you know), and the band are all over the stage. Emlee Johansson smashing those drums at the rear with a huge grin all night, and Guernica Mancini has one of those classic whisky soaked blues voices.

Thundermother (c) Gary Cooper

We have a five pronged attack next from 2020’s Heat Wave album with a couple from last year’s Deluxe Edition. “Dog from Hell” with Mona’s smooth bass lines, and “Show Me What You Got” would not be out of place on a Motorhead album with its ferocious beat. We are “Back in 76”, in a “Hellevator” before we dive headlong “Into the Mud” – a fast paced, rip roaring track with Filippa tearing up that guitar.

Emlee is smashing those drums for all she is worth, Mona is all over the place with her bass. The heat is ferocious with people stripping off and I’m actually having to wipe my camera lenses. We have to “Watch Out” with their new single as Guernica’s vocals let rip. This is a real pounding headbanger of a song, smiles and sweat laden faces all round. The aptly named “Heat Wave” is up next with its early AC/DC swagger. “Deal with the Devil” from Road Fever takes us into “Shoot To Kill”, sadly the only track tonight from 2014s Rock N’ Roll Disaster. This is pure AC/DC meets Airbourne.

We have a few more before the end, including a small nod to the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for your Right”, before we end a show truly “Driving in Style”. If that car was a souped-up fire-breathing hot-rod on nitrous it would have struggled to have kept up with the girls tonight as they crushed Bannermans. This was a rock n’ roll triumph, with not one, not two, but three tremendous bands, a true night to remember, showing us all that live music is alive and on fire.

Thundermother were mind blowingly, insanely good tonight. With sadly only a few dates in the UK this time round I feel doubly lucky to have seen them, as should the packed out hot and sweaty Bannermans crowd.

Photos by Gary Cooper

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