Rival Sons. They came in peace and yet they conquered the venue. This pretty much summed up the concert I just watched at Sentrum Scene in Norway. But it would be a shame not to let you know a bit more about this concert with Rival Sons, because it had all the elements of a great live experience and impressions for great first hand stories. The sound, the movements, the characters, the stories. Now, it might sound like a film I am about to resume for you. It isn’t. The show was in about the same length of time as a film and the plot just as exciting as the best western movies you can think of with plenty of peak moments. Rival Sons managed to take control and move the audience as they liked.
As a prelude, Rival Sons got UK rock band Kill It Kid to warm up the audience. The floor was filling up with people while more stepped by as the music started. Kill It Kid presented themselves rather anonymously from the beginning while playing in low lights and shadows. During the set they did manage, however, to show a fine energy to move around the stage and showed off a strong rock sound.
After a break, the spotlight moved up and focused on the great letters on the background – Rival Sons. A western intro played over the speakers before the band showed up from the shadows. Not any western sound, but the great main theme to film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The band showed up at stage, walking slowly, and with calmness. This was before they grabbed the instruments, turned the volume up to the max and showed us what only Rival Sons can do. Now that I have seen them perform live, I do believe right away that Rival Sons is one of the absolute top existing bands with some of the top musicians to find. No doubt on that. I know, there are so many great bands at the moment. There really is. Still, Rival Sons stand out.
The band kicked off with some of their more heavy tuned rock songs such as Electric Man with the words: “I wanna take you to the promised land. Cause I am electric. I am the electric man” and vocalist Jay Buchanan moving around in the most energetic way. He dragged the mic stand around and threw himself to the stage floor to lay before us. From time to time, he would stop singing and let the audience take over in a choir and so they followed along.
It seemed clear that the band members connected well with this both musically and in movements on stage. Each of the band members got their spotlight moment to jam a bit between the numbers, but got it to fit perfectly with the rest. Scott Holiday (also known as Mr. Fuzzlord) let us know he sure is freaking awesome on guitars, Jay Buchanan got this out of this world raw voice, Dave Beste on bass kept himself a bit more in the background but it was sure his play fit right in, and Michael Miley is one of the most charismatic drummers I have seen live. The band also had Todd Ögren-Brooks along to hit the keys, and I do mean literally slamming the keys at times.
The set seemed to consist mostly of songs from the latest album Great Western Valkyrie, but had songs from former records blended into it in a nice way from my point of view. The songs generally moved in high speed sequences but got a calm acoustic play in the middle of the set. Each element felt right at place and showed off the caliber Rival Sons possess.
The acoustic set included the whole band on acoustic instruments. The tempo was turned down some hundred mph while the mood changed to calm resting settings. They performed song Burn Down Los Angeles among others this way. A well-placed rest in red colored lights and a Californian heat. There where a short pause after the acoustic set to fix the instruments, that didn’t feel way out of place, instead it gave some time to take in the calm songs. The venue waited quietly while the sound of birds singing filled the room.
Still changing the tempo between high speed and pauses, the band introduced Where I’ve Been. With a short preach, it was told that we all make mistakes some times. We can’t hold on to these mistakes because eventually it will turn into poison. We must learn to forgive ourselves and move on… and so they started playing a beautiful, calm version of Where I’ve Been.
At the end of the concert the volume was turned right up again as the band played heavier songs as Rich And The Poor, Open My Eyes, and Keep On Swinging. At this moment, I was sitting at the balcony at second floor. I noticed I was rocking my foot and head to the the catchy rhythms. The balcony is with seats and it can be pretty tough to get these audiences along as well. But as I looked around some of the other audiences on the balcony had their arms up, singing along and a difficult time to sit down.
Well deserved the band got a standing ovations from floor to balcony, sending salutes and cheers towards the stage. To go back to the words I started this review with: Rival Sons. They came in peace and yet they conquered the venue. This was for the night at Sentrum Scene in Oslo. I do believe they are about to conquer a whole lot more.
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Review and Photos by Jules Faurschou | @rockonpoets