Review and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Described as a band challening Fleetwood Mac at their very best, Buck & Evans have packed out the famous 100 Club in London, a fitting venue given the ctirical plaudits they are receiving at the moment. Sally Ann Evans with a vocal range to die for and an ability to make the keyboards sing in harmony with her is aided and abetted by her partner in music Chris Buck a guitarist and vocalist who also adds fuel to the Fleetwood Mac comparisons.
Bringing the groove to the mix, bassist Dominic Hill brings the true rock n roll look to the stage with his lion’s mane of hair, a mane that swirls and flows with a life of its own creating a hypnotic vortex and he moves around the stage. His musical partner in crime is dummer Bob Richards and between the four on stage, they truly conjure up a time in music that is oft forgotten in favour of ‘harder, louder, faster’. The classics come rarely and this is definitely one to watch!
Before the band took to the stage however, we were graced with a set from Sweet Crisis, a band I’ve championed for some time and with great sets at Camden Rocks and Ramblin’ Man Fair this year, a debut album set for release early next year, the band are set for a pretty solid 2020. It’s well deserved as well.
With a great introduction from Planet Rock’s Paul Anthony, telling the story of how a meeting with Sweet Crisis resulted in a broken rib [we’ll leave it there as the mystery of the cause is as much fun as the reality], the evening kicks off properly.
Sweet Crisis play contemporary rock, hail from Cambridge and have a sound the band beautifully and perfectly describes as ‘soulful and catchy’. It’s true. With 1001 blues fueled artists on the circuit at the moment, it’s a tough place to be for a band that has blues influences, plays rock music and, like so many others out there, is full of talented musicians.
As we watch them perform on stage, what then sets Sweet Crisis apart from so many of their peers? For me it’s the soul and groove influence that creeps into their sound from the edges. We’re not talking Earth Wind and Fire here, this is a band that definitely grew up on bands like the Stones. However Sweet Crisis sound is birthed from the perfect blending of the sound of the Stones, mixed with Patti Smith and Stevie Wonder. No one plays music like this, no one has considered playing music like this since the glorious birth of modern classic rock in the 1970s. 40 years ago the band, now expanded to a hefty 6 piece outfit, could have been as big as Zeppelin. If they maintain this sort of output on their debut album, who knows what 2020 will bring.
Keep an eye on them in the future, they deserve to be huge.
Buck & Evans
Although they only played here six months ago, at the time, Buck & Evans were still polishing off the songs that now feature on their album ‘Write A Better Day’. Plagued with the sort of delays that impact growing acts, funding, timing, promotion etc.. the album finally saw light of day and the latest gig at the venue delivered the new music in style.
With a crowd already smiling thanks to the immeasurable talents of Sweet Crisis, Buck & Evans began their set with ‘One Four’ and Sally Ann Evans singing with gusto front and centre before returning to her keyboards for ‘Going Home’.
Whilst the focus may well be on the soulful vocals of Sally Ann, Chris Buck, the one tasked with engaging the audience in chit-chat, peels off solos like wrapping paper at a pass-the -parcel party. He does it with such ease it’s as if he was born playing the instrument. Truly amazing and totally understandable as to why the pair have been marked as a modern day Stevie Nicks \ Lindsay Buckingham combo.
‘Slow Train’, with a Buck solo injected perfectly into the song makes the smiles turn into beams of love with the crowd. Songs like ‘Treat Me Right’ allowed both Chris and drummer Bob Richards to add their pipes to the mix presenting a seriously versatile band.
As the set progressed, soul, blues, rock, even elements of jazz pop up in every song and it’s this blend of styles that really set Buck & Evans apart from their peers. It also explains why we have Sweet Crisis in support. The mixing of styles, keeping everyone on their toes, wondering what’s coming next and how it will be performed makes for a great energised show and as a result, you won’t see anything quite like this on the blues and classic rock circuit any time soon.
As an intimate gig, it was a wonderful setting. Chris more than happy to regale the crowd with choice conversations about life in the band and more. If the band are to progress, he will need to cut down on the chat as the folks at the back will begin to get twitchy wondering when the next song is coming if the lengthy monologues continue. He clearly knows he has a propensity to talk a bit too much as his band mates have no problems reminding him to simply get on with it. All very good natured and hugely endearing as well.
The word atmospheric is all too often used to describe a band but it’s apt when referring to Buck & Evans. The phrase ‘lose yourself in the music’ would also be appropriate as there were several moments when I found myself, eyes closed, listening to the music feeling like I was the only person present in the audience. That otherworldly-ness element really drives home the impact the four piece from Wales can have and it’s an experience that should be experienced by more in the coming year.