Judging by tonight’s healthy turnout no one was letting the news about the Corona virus stop them from coming out to enjoy an evening of top drawer entertainment in what is fast becoming “The place to be” when it comes to great quality rock music.
Every week there seems to be something exciting going on at this venue with everyone ultra friendly and between acts you can pop next door into the main pub area and spend some time taking in all the framed pictures of bands that have played this venue over the years.
Most importantly it makes a pleasant change to enjoy a pint of IPA and not be ripped off, and the staff happy to see you as opposed so some teenage hip hop loving bar member more interested in their mobile phone completely unaware of what day it is or more importantly who is playing. Leo’s is a music venue run by music lovers and in this day and age is rarer than rocking horse shit !!
On with the action: it’s the mighty fine and hugely entertaining GALLOWS CIRCUS playing in their home county of Kent, judging by the T shirts being worn the fans were out in numbers as well. Leading from the front is the highly energetic Ian Day who’s enthusiasm for the groups Black Crowes /Zeppelin/ style of bluesy rock is witnessed in his stage craft as visually he pours himself into the tracks much like Joe Cocker or Phil Campbell ( Ex Temperance Movement ) whilst belting out the tunes with his fine set of pipes.
This 4 piece certainly know how to gel on stage with lots of smiles and enjoyment and special mention need go to guitarist Ben Attwood who has a unique free flowing guitar style that to the punter looks effortless but to the ears is a sonic orgasm. ‘Faith To Believe’ is a fine opener closely followed by ‘Game On’ which has a pounding bass line that shakes the hell out the venue.
With lots of interaction with the audience as well as confusion as to what the hell they were going to be playing next it was a cover of ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles that gave Ben the chance to rip a solo out that would have terrified Lennon and McCartney back in the day.
Personally for me new single ‘Hells Whiskey’ with its distorted sounding bass intro has to one of the best songs they have ever put their name to. I really enjoyed the fact that I had just witnessed yet another up and coming local group on the cusp of something much bigger than what they are achieving now.
The group were in such high spirits that even a tray of shots made it onto the stage which were handed to a couple of audience members while the band enjoyed polishing off the rest. All in all, a great band that I have seen before on a few occasions but tonight’s show was such fun and through it all most importantly the material has so many twists and turns that this style of classic rock just goes from strength to strength.
I have to put my hand up and admit that with heavy heart I knew very little about JACK J HUTCHINSON but a couple of hours later both me and the photographer Darren knew everything that need to be known about this monster 3 piece outfit.
Centre stage appears half man half mountain Jack with hair almost at waist length and his trademark hat with an image that resembles a bit of a grizzly biker look, and a stock pile of riffs that could strip varnish from the venues bar.
So with the flying V safely in his hands, it was head first into ‘Justified’ and ‘Haunted Bones’ before settling down with the country twang intro of ‘Kiss Your Ass Goodbye’ and being less frantic than the opening 2 songs. ‘Peace Of Mind’ from the new album was when I realised that this was turning out to a very special evening.
It was on this song that I heard echoes of the sadly missed Tom Petty as the first minute passed that “Tom Petty” vibe passed and the group had turned the song on its head and we were being blasted with a full on rock assault to the senses, which judging by Jacks huge grin, was as much a pleasure for him to play as it was for me to hear.
‘Peace Of Mind’ also had the added bonus of a very catchy chorus that most people knew the words to and were joining in. With a quick switch of the guitar it was ‘Deal With The Devil’ recently voted Classic Rock Magazines track of the week swaggers along and it was at this point that the first few rows decided it was time to shake their asses.
‘Wake Up’ believe it or not takes the proceedings to another level, a much older song this is obviously a track they enjoy playing and with Jack on the lip of the stage engrossed in his craft, I was happy to be standing 3 feet away from his fingers and just how fast do those digits move ? Don’t get me wrong this was not some boring Satriana /Vai wank fest, this is just raw talent stemming from the love of blues / rock not some inflated ego trying to show off.
The fretwork is both insane and scary but the material is never a racket and with the song morphing into a crazy drum solo then into a funked up bass solo, by the time the 3 band members had worn themselves out we were well past the 10 minute mark and fast approaching 15.
Next up was a special moment for not just Jack who wrote it but for the many people gathered. Out comes the acoustic guitar for ‘I Will Follow You’ a song written all about the suffering of a loved one because of dementia. You could have heard a pin drop as the song was performed with such emotion and a track that Jack admitted from the stage, “Is hard to sing” because of his experience with this awful disease. For me I can only pay total respect that someone as loud and menacing as the JACK HUTCHINSON BAND can spend a few minutes playing something this heartfelt.
All of a sudden, this familiar sounding siren goes off and the place goes bat shit crazy with a version of Sabbaths ‘War Pigs’ that is note perfect and with the gathered vocal choir of at least 200 people singing every single word straight back at the group. When it comes to the guitar solo Jack had decided he needed to visit the crowd so in he jumps and just keeps peeling off those riffs. ‘World On Fire’ a new song recently recorded in Brazil has a chugging main riff then breaks down into a slight melodic mid section with a haunted guitar feel added into the mix.
GALLOWS CIRCUS front man Ian Day jumps up on stage for a frantic blast through Peter Greens ‘Oh Well’ shaking the life out of his tambourine whilst the group seem to have turned the volume up to 11. Set closer I believe was called ‘Rattlesnake Woman’ and displayed a doom laden feel with Jack once again bored of being on stage and leaping back into the crowd once again bringing everything to a resounding climax.
Special mention needs to be paid to FELIPE on drums and LAZARUS on bass for complimenting JACK so well, both fine musicians help take this trio to another level in the live setting.
To try and sum up tonight, is so full of positives with a great venue and two superb live acts. I urge anyone who is reading this review to get off the couch and get down to your local venue and support this tour as it criss-crosses the UK. I will be doing this all again on the 17th April to catch them again in Canterbury because if its half as good as tonight then I will go home contented.
Review by Steve Bruty for MPM
Photography by Darren Smith for MPM