For this reviewer, September ended up pretty much where it had started, at a gig! Seeing the month’s live entertainment out, meant a journey up from the South coast into London to catch a tour, which certainly for me had caught my eye and one I was disappointed to have only caught one night of. I think it is fair to say that Collateral and Piston or Piston and Collateral, like a good TV detective agency they have probably argued over who goes first, have both captured the eye and ear of the gig going and music buying rock fan this year.
Their co-headlining tour has taken them up and down the UK throughout September with gigs as far south as Southampton and as far north as Newcastle (Collateral only), with many dotted about in between. There are exciting times ahead for both bands and a well structured tour itinerary has meant that the last night as such of the tour, sees them both roll into good old London town so that the natives of our capital city can get a glimpse of these two energetic, entertaining and highly talented bands up close and personal.
Opening for the two main acts on a cold, wet and windy night in London were the UK’s own Hard Southern Rock Band, The Sons of Liberty. Rain, me and The Sons of Liberty seem to go hand in hand as the last time I saw them was on a cold, wet and windy day in Derbyshire in July. Fortunately, unlike that gig, tonight’s show was indoors so I wasn’t going to get drenched or cold watching them entertain the crowd with their superb brand of Southern Rock as they took the temperature up from the start with some superb riff laden, whiskey drenched, bone crunching tunes that could easily have been written in the deep south of the USA.
This gig was supposed to take place at The Big Red but got moved to Night Club Kolis after the former sadly closed it’s doors for the last time recently. A subsequent earlier start time to fit in with the new venue meant that Sons of Liberty unfortunately took to the stage to a very small crowd. This didn’t stop them pulling out a rip roaring set on the night and the venue filled as their set went on.
Playing a nine song set made up of material from both their Shinola and Aged in Oak EP’s plus soon to be released debut album ANIMISM, the band are captivating to watch and the quality of their music can’t fail to make your ears prick up and get your feet tapping. Opening tracks Brotherhood and Dixie Whiskey are each taken from those EP’s.
Guitarists Fred Hale and Andy Muse have certainly got the Southern rock feel and attitude for their guitar parts as they delight the crowd with some scintillating work during the set. It’s My Bad, Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief, Up Shit Creek, Into The Great Unknown and Marvin Popcorn Sutton are all taken from that upcoming debut album and keep the swelling crowd entertained and are incredibly well received.
Singer Rob Cooksley has without doubt got a powerful set of pipes on him as well as playing a mean harmonica and it is hard to take your eyes off him as he paces the small club stage.
Age and experience have taught him a lot and his stage presence is bewitching! The band finish their set by going back to their Aged in Oak EP for Damned If You Do and the crowd pleasing If It Ain’t Southern, which if anybody was wondering where these guys roots lie, clears that issue up instantly.
It may have been an early evening set and the venue may not have been as full as the band wanted but they put on a blistering performance that I certainly enjoyed and so did those there from what I could tell. With Lynyrd Skynyrd taking their final bows from the UK in June, there is an opening for a band to play Southern rock to the masses. On that performance and with that material Sons Of Liberty should make sure they get their application in now.
Midlands based rockers Piston are up next and this was without doubt a hotly anticipated set, both for me and the now rapidly filling venue. I have been fortunate to see the band twice before this summer and on both occasions have been blown away by their energy, charisma, attitude and music.
What Piston gave us tonight was a 45 minute, 10 song set full of high quality, spine tingling, rock music that grabbed you by the balls and didn’t weaken it’s grip until the band had long left the stage. In fact I could still feel the after effects of their rip-roaring set long into the night as I made my way home in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Riding the crest of a wave after shows at some big festivals through the summer and with the recent announcement they will be supporting Glenn Hughes on his Scottish tour dates in November, Piston let this small London venue have the full force of their power tonight.
For those that didn’t know who Piston were before tonight or hadn’t heard them before they could surely have been nothing but taken aback by the quality of the show that they witnessed. Singer Rob Angelico prowls the small stage like a caged tiger waiting for it’s next meal, his gravelly growling vocals a perfect fit for the rawness of the bands music.
Jack Edwards shows the watching crowd why he has been getting so much media attention of late as he treats us to some wonderful riffs and solos throughout the set. You can certainly see and hear why Gretsch have invested in this young six string maestro, talent like this comes along very rarely and he should almost certainly be talked about with the greats of yesteryear in years to come. Then there is the man behind the drum kit, “The Captain” Brad Newlands. He is a total force of nature and could never ever be described as a shrinking violet.
He takes every opportunity to let the crowd now who it is that is providing the thunderous backbeat to the truly majestic tunes that Piston play and is wonderfully entertaining with a brief drum solo and on stage antics from behind his kit. That leaves the quieter two members of the band, bassist Stuart Egan and guitarist Luke Allatt.
They may not grab as much of the limelight as the other three members but without them the band would not be complete. Luke’s guitar parts compliment the wizardry of Jack so perfectly whilst Stuart keeps an oh so tight rhythm section alongside the drums.
Pistons debut album, for me is one of the albums of the year and the band play the majority of it in their set tonight. Opening track Dynamite, leads into Rainmaker and then One More Day. It is a full throttle rocking start to the set as Blow It Away, the third single released from the album keeps the tempo going before the band move away from their own material and throw in a superb version of AC/DC’s Gone Shootin.
Dropping the tempo with the superb ballad Carry Us Home doesn’t affect the atmosphere at all and then Go Now with all it’s anthemic swagger really gets the crowd singing and clapping along. Leave If You Dare and Into The Night are the last two originals played tonight before an electrifying version of the Creedance Clearwater classic Proud Mary brings the set to a close. I’ve seen a lot of bands do covers over the last 30 years or so but the way Piston do this, they really make it their own and it brings the curtain down on an exhilarating 45 minutes that leaves me wanting more and more. I am not going to get it tonight but will definitely be catching Piston again at the first available opportunity.
That then meant it was down to Collateral to bring the nights proceedings to a close and boy did they do that in style. They rocked Night Club Kolis with the verve and vigor of a band who are clearly destined for much bigger and better things. Collateral bring more than enough to the party to make you realise that this is a band, who although pull on so many influences from a time where cowboy boots, tassled jackets and long flowing locks were all the rage have no desire to be seen as a band stuck in a time warp. Their music is fresh, it’s inspired, it’s uplifting and it has feeling and soul to it.
You cannot help but get drawn in by the glint in front man and band leader Angelo Tristan’s eye. He never stops smiling and there is a genuine warmth that exudes from his every spoken word and sung lyric that seduces you and draws you in to his youthful charm.
Just over 35 years ago a young, fresh faced singer from New Jersey launched himself and his band on the world. They left their mark, with songs that defined a genre and a generation. Collateral have the songs, the music, the look and the attitude to do the same.
That man was Jon Bon Jovi and in Angelo Tristan the UK may just have found the natural successor to that man’s throne. The band are not just a one man show though, far from it. In Todd Winger, they have a guitarist extraordinaire.
The man has fingers that move so quick up and down the fretboard, it is a wonder that his Jackson guitar doesn’t catch fire. He is not a shredder though, he plays with warmth and tenderness throughout but given the chance during some electrifying solo spots he shows that he can mix it with the best with some hypnotizing guitar work.
Then there is the rhythm section of Jack Bentley-Smith on bass and Ben Atkinson on drums, they are so tight tonight it is almost like they have a sixth sense going on between them. They play with power, precision and just get into a groove that catapults these wonderful songs up to the next level.
Tonight, they treat their crowd to a 10 song set that includes three songs from their 2018 4 Shots EP and seven songs from their yet to be released debut album. This is a well honed set and is extremely polished. These boys are not leaving anything to chance and are going to take their shot with both hands.
Opener Big Shot is a big, bombastic, energetic rocking sing a long opener that hits you like a right hook from a heavyweight boxer. Going With The Wind and Dreaming follow, the crowd lap it up and quite rightly so.
They are witnessing something special tonight in this intimate little venue. This is a big stage band with some big stage songs. Merry Go Round and Just Waiting For You are
up next before About This Boy, a moving biographic story about the bands erstwhile frontman.
Time flies when you are having fun and tonight it really did. As a rock fan that remembers those halcyon days that the band are so clearly influenced by it is hard to not stand there thinking of youthful happy times that the music inspires.
In It For Love is a brand new track that I have not heard before and what a track it is. The time change half way through is just sublime and I can see this becoming a crowd favourite going forward.
The set is played out with three familiar rocking tracks that inspire crowd participation and get it. Promiseland, first single Midnight Queen and then the Planet Rock playlisted Lullaby bring the night to a close and as far as I can see, leave every person in the venue with a smile on their face, after all that is what music is supposed to do isn’t it.
From what I can make out, this co-headlining tour for Piston and Collateral has been a success. They have played to good crowds up and down the country and if they both go on to achieve the success they deserve, it may just be one of those “were you there when” tours that we talk about now from bands who we saw as they started out and are still going strong today.
They are two bands that are heading upwards and heading their rapidly. I for one am really looking forward to watching their careers progress as both bands deserve to be playing in much bigger venues, on much bigger stages. Their music should be heard and sung along to by crowds in arenas and maybe stadiums and if the world is a fair and just place it will be.
I made my way home eventually after some much needed liquid refreshment knowing that what I had just witnessed was special. Don’t take my word for it, all three bands are playing gigs and festivals throughout the UK for the remainder of the year, so do yourself a favour and go and see them. You will not be disappointed.
Review & Photography by Darren Smith – Sons of Liberty- Collateral feature photo
Photography – Piston – Collateral in review by Andras Paul