There may have been a little bit of a buzz about this particular gig. Heck, even Inglorious bassist Colin Parkinson is wearing a t-shirt with “Believe the Hype” emblazoned across the front. Admittedly it looks (for those that remember them) a little bit like the “Frankie Says Relax” t-shirts from the mid-1980s but we’ll let it go as the hype does indeed surround Inglorious who have been tipped in many circles as the future of British rock music.
The floor at Islington’s Assembly Hall was suitably full, impressive for a Sunday night out, and as we waited for the main event, we were treated to a couple of interesting and very fitting warm up acts.
Influenced by the classics as well as some of the more modern bands doing the rounds today, Curran normally play as a hard rocking set with five members in place. The opening set of the night however was something a little bit special. A stripped back acoustic set with just Mark Curran providing the main vocals and Jam Wired harmonising as they both played some of Curran’s best known tracks and threw in a few curve balls to keep the audience interested.
Playing at 7pm on a Sunday night as people are just sinking the first drink of the evening and catching up with friends is never easy and Curran had their work cut out for them to grab the attendance of the decent sized crowd in the short 30 minute slot afforded to them. Highlights did however include the wonderful ‘My Love Won’t Let You Down‘ which Mark did his best to get everyone to sing along to during the chorus and a stunning acoustic rendition of one of Bon Jovi’s best tracks from ‘New Jersey’, ‘Blood on Blood’. Very fitting as the full electric version of ‘My Love…’ has a vocal that Mr BJ himself would be proud of. It might even cause him to sit up and remember “that’s how rock music should sound!!”.
By the end of the set, there were enough cheers, hollers and whoops for Mark and Jam to leave the stage with smiles on their faces. It leaves me wanting to see the band with a full line up and a longer set so job done all round!
The Ali Clinton Band
Hailing from Leicester in the heart of England, Ali Clinton is one of those talented young ‘uns who can sing, play and write some seriously impressive rock tunes. He follows in the impressive footsteps of luminaries like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Rory Gallagher and maintains that energised, authentic, rock n blues feel of his elders. Having already cut his teeth on rhythm guitar for Uli John Roth no less, it’s no surprise that Ali’s set was tight, polished and very professional.
With only a debut E.P. under his belt, it’s worth noting that the crowd really and I mean REALLY got into the young three piece on stage and there were many many nods of approval from people in the crowd young and old alike. The upcoming tour with Inglorious will do the band no harm whatsoever and see their profile rise as a result.
As the lights dim, the buzz in the packed Assembly Hall builds and the band run onto the stage and start playing the intro to perhaps their most well known track ‘Until I Die’. A shrewd move given that the début album has only just come out and, press copies aside, been in the hands of the assembled punters for a little over 48 hours.
It’s worth noting early on that one immediate distraction was the presence of a person I believe to be the lost sailor Ben Gunn (Treasure Island) sitting behind the drum kit. Hair and beards may well be back in fashion but when you look like you’re about to refer to your drum kit as ‘Wilson’ then maybe it’s time to have a chat to a pair of scissors. Fashion aside though, Phil Beaver pounded the drums like his life depended on it and along with the crunching riffs from the opening track, it paved the way for Nathan James to come bounding onto the stage his blonde hair billowing around him.
From the off, it was clear that Nathan’s voice was everything the hype had suggested and more. His range is something else and his vocal style pulls in healthy doses of David Coverdale, Graham Bonnet, Ronnie James Dio adds a dash of Meat Loaf, mixes it all together and presents the crowd with one of the most powerful rock voices to come from the UK in many years.
Carrying on in chronological order, ‘Breakaway’ was then followed by one of several covers for the night. As Nathan rightly pointed out, they may well have been headlining but they’ve still only got one album of music out so far and the paying public are a fickle bunch who demand 75 odd minutes or more to deem a set length worthy of a headline band.
So with 50 minutes of original music to play, the extra time was filled with tracks that simply validated everyone’s perceptions and prior knowledge about the versatility of Nathan’s voice. ‘I Surrender’ saw the band bring out their inner Blackmore courtesy of Wil Taylor and Swedish guitarist Andreas Zäta Eriksson. Nathan’s JLT is spot on and as the cheers of the crowd brought the song to a close, the Zeppelin-esque groove of ‘High Flying Gypsy’ held them all in thrall reaffirming the band’s dedication to all things classic rock.
Presented live for the very first time, there were no mishaps or mistakes despite Nathan’s fears, ‘Inglorious’ is a monster of a song and worthy of the band name and album title as well. ‘Bleed for You’ then gave the band the opportunity to demonstrate their musical versatility with a powerful ballad and a track that also enabled Nathan to present his gentle side, softer silky smooth tones that dripped with emotion before building into a roaring performance that lifted the song to conclusion.
Further covers were dropped into the set including Deep Purple Mark III’s ‘Lay Down, Stay Down’ which Nathan introduced with his best Coverdale copyrighted “here’s a song for ya”. As the set began to draw to a close however, THE track of the album in my opinion is chambered into the barrel and fired out to the crowd. ‘Holy Water’ is simply stunning and live, it delivers everything a fan could want from the band. If anyone was looking for that “I’ve heard them play that, I can now go home happy”, then this was the song to do it.
The set concluded with ‘Girls Got a Gun’ and then the band return for one more, the final track of the album, ‘Unaware’.
If you haven’t heard the album , buy it, if you have then you know you need to see them live. The band are currently on tour across the UK.
Until I Die
I Surrender (Rainbow / Russ Ballard cover)
High Flying Gypsy
Bleed for You
Girl Goodbye (Toto cover)
Lay Down, Stay Down (Deep Purple cover)
Girl Got a Gun