Review & Photography by Jon Theobald
Almost halfway through the long-awaited We Will Ride / Heroine tour and the Inglorious juggernaut rolls into London town and back to the venue that launched the Inglorious II album a mere 4 years ago.
With the socially-distanced tables at last removed from the Assembly Hall, the crowd was free to hit the barrier and, respecting fellow fans’ space, fill the floor from the front to the sound desk and beyond.
The evening started with an extra act added to the bill for London. Tim Prottey-Jones, multi-talented musician, friend and previous tv co-contestant with Nathan, took to the stage with his acoustic guitar and consumately delivered a solo opening set. Cheerful and chatty, his vocals blended perfectly with his (mainly) self-composed tracks.
As founder of ‘The Wandering Hearts’, Tim is now running solo – with an accomplished mix of alt-country/rock at the heart of his current set, he deserves to see the same success as with his band. He’s coming back to Islington in early October so check him out.
Setlist: Fire // Good Life // Love On Our Side // Until I Do // Exit Wounds // The Joke // Drinking For 3.
Next up were main tour support Mercutio. Having supported Inglorious on a previous tour, and gone down well with the crowd, the band were invited back to add their alt-rock vibe and energy to warm up the masses again. Described as ‘Muse meets The Virgin Marys’, it took mere seconds before you understood why the London-based (now) four piece were on the bill again with Fabio Staffieri’s driving guitar and incessant bassline from Andrea Lonardi as the opening notes of ‘Where The Pain Lives’.
Frontman Ross Wild showed why having a singer with stage presence is so important to a band. With a strong vocals and a charming demeanour, he made the most of the wide stage at Islington, prowling and high-kicking his platform punk boots from side to side. He chatted in-between songs, telling back stories about how tracks like ‘Chaos’ came to be – apparently a US Sherriff, a quad bike, a desert and a late night party (with a range of delicacies) contributed to the inspiration and experience!
Being somewhat hemmed-in between Edoardo Mariotti’s drum kit and the side of the stage, didn’t seem to hinder Fabio’s guitar work as he switched between rhythm and lead breaks for track after track, but it did leave plenty of space for Ross and Andrea to rock out together, and for Ross’ legendary drops to the floor as he becomes all consumed with the music.
Excitedly announcing a new Universal Music contract, Ross went on to explain that the next track had to be re-titled ‘C Word’ … and it’s not for swearing or Covid … but let’s say that times have changed since Eric Clapton had his big hit with an unexpurgated version!
The crowd responded well as ‘The Ghost’ closed the set – it’s slower opening tempo giving way to a high-octane, full-on sound and dramatic ending as Ross again hits the deck. The band had time for a quick crowd selfie for socials before they had to clear the stage – another solid night’s support slot done.
Setlist: Where The Pain Lives // Slap Bang // Playtime // Alex // Chaos // C-Word // Ghost
Suffice to say that there aren’t many bands that used the lock-down period to record and release not one, but two albums, but Inglorious promised a set showcasing the best of all their albums to date.
When the lights dimmed and the ‘Grandstand’ intro track rang out around the hall, you could sense the anticipation of an audience starved of rock. Each band member was cheered as they took to the stage, with the loudest obviously saved for Nathan James as the band quickly broke into opening track from the (old) new We Will Ride album ‘She Won’t Let You Go’.
Running straight into ‘Breakaway’, another facet of 18 months of rehearsals and recordings became apparent – the even greater synergy and ease with which the two Dans play and swap guitar roles. Dan Stevens, nattily dressed in a red bowler hat, sunglasses and white waistcoat, and Danny Dela Cruz, resplendent tonight in a black and white pinstripe suit, are even tighter and in tune with each other than before.
Taking a break and chatting to the audience, Nathan seemed visibly and emotionally pleased to be back in town. Apologising for having a cold, he was effusive in his thanks to everybody coming back out and supporting rock again … and also asking for their help later on with some chorus sing-alongs and call backs to give his throat a break. Mind you, you’d be hard pushed to notice as he effortlessly demonstrated the vocal range, power and sensitivity he’s become known for.
Introducing the last single from ‘We Will Ride’, the Planet Rock playlisted ‘My Misery’, gave the audience a better chance to hear the keyboards of Rob Lindop come through on the slower tempo opening, before the chorus swells and Phil Beaver’s drums and Vinnie Colla’s basslines click in with the Double-D guitars and full strength track is again delivered.
Danny takes centre stage and solo’s the opening riffs for ‘Read All About It’ and the switch between five years difference of tracks is seamless.
Explaining that the next track was the inspiration for the ‘Heroine’ covers album sent the audience into complete silence. Hairs stood up on forearms all over the hall as Nathan’s haunting vocals, supported by the Rob’s delicate keys, introduced ‘Uninvited’. Again, the thunderous break of the rest of the band coming in after the first verse a complete counterpoint to the poignant opening. Dan’s impressive mid-song solo gave way to a full Danny Dela Cruz wunderkind solo to majestically end the track and the first half of the set.
“So it’s that time” Nathan said as the now infamous acoustic session beckoned. There’s a lovely visual symmetry between left-handed Phil Beaver playing his 12-string and right-handed Danny DC on his 6-string as Nathan changes from his black and white spotted shirt and waistcoat into a more colourful patterned shirt. Phil takes the lead as they deliver ‘Glory Days’, Nathan’s vocals perfectly complementing the tone of the 12-string. Then Danny takes over the lead with another ‘Heroine’ track, Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’, this time with the audience delivering the choruses at a tuneful and complementary volume.
Back to the plugged in set now as Phil’s drums and Danny’s slide guitar intro signalled ‘Medusa’ and then Nathan’s audience challenge “Will you be louder than Bristol?” heralded crowd favourite ‘Holy Water’ and another demonstration of the Double-D’s switching lead and rhythm duties mid track and then back again!
The next track was introduced as being Inglorious’ heaviest track so far – and the volume from Vinnie’s driving bass, Phil’s flailing arms and kick drum and the dual guitars riffs of ‘He Will Provide’ that ensued, firmly supported Nathan’s statement. A powerhouse of a song…
The audience supported Nathan’s chorus vocals for ‘I Don’t Need Your Loving’ and supported his callout for the merch for all three bands on the bill – it’s been a tough 18 months for everyone!
Tim Prottey-Jones made a surprise return to the stage for ‘Eye Of The Storm’, a track that he co-wrote with Nathan and Phil, plugging in his acoustic guitar and sharing vocal duties with Nathan on alternate verses and chorus.
Thanks again from Nathan to the audience and the set closed with another powerful track, the title track from ‘We Will Ride’ which seemed almost as heavy as ‘He Will Provide’! and gave a wonderful sight as the whole frontline of the band stood in a row singing the chorus lines for all they were worth.
A brief off/on stage moment and a combination of Dan Stevens’ Gibson guitar and Nathan teased the crowd from centre stage, whipping their cheers up until Nathan seemed satisfied they deserved more 😉 … ‘Until I Die’ was unleashed and Nathan took to standing on the bass bins in front of the stage to get closer to the audience and really ‘melt their faces’ (as I believe is the right phrase!).
And then that was it – what a night of rock. Inglorious delivered a great set, with selections from all the albums – almost a festival set – a clever way to remind everyone what they have missed and whet their appetite to get back and devour more in the months to come … bring it on!
Setlist: She Won’t Let You Go // Breakaway // Midnight Sky // Where Are You Now // My Misery // Read All About It // Uninvited // Glory Days (acoustic) // Time After Time (acoustic) // Medusa // Holy Water // He Will Provide // I Don’t Need Your Loving // Eye Of The Strom // We Will Ride // Until I Die (encore)