Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
There’s a bit of a buzz in the air at the moment. A suggestion that we might finally have a band that can step into the shoes of rock luminaries like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Europe, Poison and more importantly fill those shoes adequately. Quite a statement when you consider that the band were releasing their debut 4 track e.p. the same weekend that they played Leo’s Red Lion, perhaps one of the longest running and most well known rock venues in Kent.
Collateral (for it is they) bring to the table many things that are missing for rock music at the moment. Humour, energy and more importantly a sense of fun and enjoyment in the songs result in a mix of styles that not only pay homage to the bands mentioned above but also bring a fresh feel to everything, managing to neatly avoid ‘parody’ or ‘pastiche’ labels afforded to bands like The Darkness and Steel Panther. Collateral offer instead a bona fide rock band with the looks, the songs and the solos to create the whole package.
Before the packed Red Lion got to see the set from Collateral, we were treated to 2 supports. First up and travelling down all the way from Manchester…
The best way to describe Twisted Illusion would be “Rushie James Dio” as the band cut a fine path somewhere in between Holy Diver and Spirit of Radio. It’s the strangest combination but one that seems to work very well with both lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Jones and bassist Mark Wagstaff (I believe?) sharing the vocals at times. The mix of styles of the two singers breathes life into what might otherwise have been more run of the mill progressive rock songs but the interplay between them and the rest of the band makes for a fascinating opening set.
It was smiles all round by the time they finished. Recent double album “Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces” has gained national attention, with reviews appearing in both Classic Rock and Prog Magazine and rightly so. Almost strange that they open for a band releasing it’s debut e.p. so fair play to Twisted Illusion for putting in an excellent shift and getting the party started.
Dead Man’s Whiskey
Dead Man’s Whiskey brought out the big guns for their set and delivered a much harder, heavier set than Twisted Illusion. Musically they were pretty flawless with lead guitarist Billy Kons clearly worshiping at the alter of Slash as the pictures below will also verify.
Lead singer Nico Rogers however did the band from London no favours at all by dropping expletives into his opening speech to the crowd and suggesting that anyone that didn’t buy Collateral’s e.p. was a ‘C U next Tuesday’. Not a great way to endear people to the cause when they aren’t all existing fans of the music on offer. He clearly realised his mistake as he spent the next few songs trying to get back into everyone’s good books and it was only when the band launched into a cover of Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’ that the crowd turned and started to appreciate what was on offer. The pièce de résistance however was ‘Make You Proud’ a song written for Rogers’ Mother when she was seriously ill. It clearly was the catalyst to making the crowd buy into the band and by the time they finished all was forgiven, t-shirts were being sold and the desire to check out the band further was guaranteed.
Their secret weapon is however Kons. His playing was something else. The use of a talk box to supplement some of Rogers vocals was a wonderful thing to hear and see. It’s a tool used too infrequently these days yet it appears on some of the best rock anthems of the last thirty years. Don’t believe me? Check out this list of classics that all use the effect.
All in all a great set. If Nico focusses on wowing the crowd with the music and his excellent voice whilst avoiding the off target banter, Dead Man’s Whiskey will be onto a winner.
And so to..
Having seen the band a couple of times over the last few months, supporting Q5 and Bad Touch (the latter also a gig at Leo’s Red Lion) it’s been an easy exercise to get completely hooked on their music.
They may be in the process of releasing their debut e.p., the excellent 4 Shots! (CLICK HERE FOR OUR REVIEW) but they’ve been gearing up to this moment for some time now, honing the on stage performance to perfection. In Angelo Tristan, they have the ideal front man. The tall swaggering lead singer has the voice of Jon Bon Jovi circa 1987, the moves of a younger Brett Michaels and a neat turn with an acoustic guitar that adds a touch of The Eagles to the band’s overall sound.
Lead guitarist Todd Winger acts as the perfect partner to Angelo and the pair present the ideal Brett \ CC , Jon \ Richie , Mick & Keith image that all bands aspire to have. All too often it’s just about the front man but in Collateral, the four piece all bring their everything to the stage and it really pays off.
Yes we got tracks from the new e.p. as expected. Lead single “Midnight Queen” going down well with the crowd who all appeared to know the song word for word only the day after the e.p. was released.
We also got a couple of Bon Jovi covers [natch] which, not surprisingly fit the set like the most velvety of velvet gloves. It was as it was always meant to be, a party. The sort of gig where you don’t go to work out your anger and frustrations from your system but to simply revel in the music and put quite simply “have a good time”. When was the last time we just went out and managed that! For me it was Saturday just gone!!
Collateral are set for greatness. If you missed them this time, check out the Facebook live video below. Once you’re convinced, come back to Leo’s in April 2019 for a double dose with Bad Touch also returning.
COLLATERAL LIVE AT LEO’S RED LION, GRAVESEND, KENT