Home Gigs Gig Review: Rival Sons Are Electric In The Barrowland, Glasgow

Gig Review: Rival Sons Are Electric In The Barrowland, Glasgow

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Rival Sons return to Glasgow on the back of the incredible Feral Roots album and take things to a whole new level. Support for the tour is Canada’s The Sheepdogs and one way to see your name in lights is to bring a lighting rig yourself. This band are already huge but to be fair still not widely known in the UK. They are a great fit for the headliners and having seen them before I knew what to expect.


Tonight they are very dapper with some seriously noticeable stage clothes. I suspect this is the first time I have seen a salmon pink suit in this venue but enough of lights and outfits…it is the music that matters and these boys bring the tunes. Their brand of blues, country and rock may be from the 70s but it is hell of enjoyable.

They kicked off with “I’m Gonna be Myself” and with those outfits you have to agree. By the time “I’ve Got a Hole Where my Heart Should be” comes on they have already won over this crowd. With a mostly aging crowd (myself included) their sound takes us back to earlier times, times of free love, amazing music and just good times.

“Saturday Night” may be a day early at this gig but it is Glasgow and the weekend has already started and this feel good tune went down a treat. We get a slice of Beach Boys on “Southern Dreamings” opening before it slides into The Doors.

“Feeling Good” is up next and it is what this band are good at doing, I cannot imagine anyone being depressed listening to The Sheepdogs, it is impossible to keep the smile from your face and the shimmy in your hips.

This is a great live band and one you need to check out ASAP. They are just a down to earth, good old Rock’n’Roll band.


Three years is a long time in music and for Rival Sons it is a huge leap forward. I have to be upfront with you. When this band hit the scene I was really excited and I tracked everything they done but with 2016 release Hollow Bones I was left a bit empty and when I saw them last in the now defunct ABC two years ago I just wasn’t feeling it any more.

As with all bands I follow I was not going to give up on them for one album that I did not like so I sat down and listened to Feral Roots on the day of release and I was truly blown away. This album for me is the best they have done, it is an incredible piece of musicianship with some truly Classic songs that I know will go on to be fan favourites forever.

This album gave me a whole new lease of love for the band and I was desperately hoping my newly found tracks would be played live…I was not disappointed.

The band took to the stage after the skeleton from the latest album cover’s beating heart stopped then the lights burst to life and we saw the stage set in all its glory. The whole concept of the album, the stage set, the lights just go to show how much faith the band have in this album and like a statement they open with new number “Back in the Woods” and Michael Miley lets rip on the drums and to be fair this monster does not let up all night.

As if the band read my mind we continue with another new number in “Sugar on the Bone” and if this album does anything it focuses on Jay Buchanan who filters from the soul of Jim Morrison…although he has taken the stage with his Pyjama bottoms on. The people who may not have got as accustomed to the new album as I have let out a roar for the next two songs in “Pressure and Time” and the outstanding “Electric Man”. The later had the venue bouncing and the crowd singing their hearts out. With those fuzzy guitars you can pick out a Rival Sons tune from three miles away.

As we stroll through songs new and old I take in what could be a completely different band from two years ago. The difference is palpable, they are tighter, stronger, more focused and completely on fire. They have been brave with this tour, with the album only weeks old they have stacked the set list with new songs but with the strength of them it has paid off. I suspect the band are extremely proud of it and when you hear the title track live you will be mesmerised both audibly and visually as this is a beautiful number, both slow and powerful and truly unique.

As we roll into the encore I am a bit down as my favourite track from the new album has not been showcased and as we all know bands do not play new songs in the encore…well shut my face not Rival Sons and up pops “Shooting Stars”. What can I say, well that is easy, this is the best track this band have ever produced. It is sublime, it is what you call an arena filler. This song could be a gospel choir and Jay could command any choir in any church with this performance. Tonight The Barras is the church and the congregation rose the rafters. This was a stroke of genius putting it in the encore and based on tonight this will stay there for a very, very long time.

The night is closed on “Keep on Swinging” and as much as I love this song “Shooting Stars” was not going to be beaten. Rival sons is a new beast with Feral Roots and I suspect this album will propel them to new heights. It is not very often you can stand at a gig and know without doubt that you have just witnessed a massive turning point for a band but that is what happened tonight. Watch this space for world domination.

Images and words Ritchie Birnie

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