Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
The Patriot, post-lockdown, has roared off the starting line like a finely tuned v-twin; all shining chrome and matt black paintwork, purring in delight.
Sold out shows and stellar lineups have made the effort expended in the expansion and refurbishment of this friendliest of venues all worthwhile. Pound for pound, decibel for decibel The Patriot proudly boasts a lighting rig and PA many venues of this size would give their metaphorical right arm for; it’s one of the leading lights in the regional underground rock scene and tonight’s bill is ample proof of why.
Rocking blues preacher Jack J. Hutchinson is in town ready to go toe to toe with the devil himself. The last time I caught this wily six-stringer in action, at Love Rocks down there in Dorsetshire, he unleashed a fiery sermon from the gospel of bad-arsed rock n’ roll.
Tonight Jack has brought some good buddies with him in the fine shape of Devon’s rapidly ascending rockers Firekind and hollering out of Bridgend the howling prairie dogs of Coyote Creed.
The latter open the show, one down on their normal number. Their bassist is seemingly missiing in action; not that it detracts from the fine set of Southern-laced country-rock that the trio, who have hotfooted it eastwards, deliver in accomplished style.
Kicking off with 12 bar southern rocker ‘Little Too Much’ gets the early doors crowd onside swiftly. There’s more than a dash of Quo and Dr. Feelgood to go with that good ol’ boy stateside feel.
This instantly likeable trio hit a country groove with ‘Doesn’t Mean A Thing’ before heavying it up with ‘Outcast’ that echoes ZZ Top and Skynrrd. The stomping 12 bar beast ‘Sick, Sober & Sorry’ heads off instantly drawing comparisons to The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’ prior to angling into a gritty, dark blues realm featuring some mighty fine harmonica work from vocalist / guitarist Dave Mac; his gravelly vocals landing somewhere between Lee Brilleaux and Billy Gibbons.
The gritty ‘Ride On’ serves up a dirty cocktail of Creedance Clearwater Revival and The Stones as Dave Mac and his fellow guitarist Jack Thomas go head-to-head out front of drummer Andy Harding. The fast tempo of ‘Goes Down South’ closes the set. It’s a good old-fashioned foot-stomping hillybilly rock n’ roller that gets the heads nodding and receives a deserved loud cheer.
The rather delectable filling in this evening’s musical sandwich is Devon trio Firekind who are ending the year on a high with this tour as the main support to Mr. Hutchinson as well as a coveted slot at Planet Rock’s Winters End festival in the new year.
If this wasn’t enough they’ve bagged an invitation from none other than fellow Devonian rock-hound Kris Barras to play at his Kris-mas show in Torquay. After two decades in the industry and some false dawns the Morris brothers – Jas (vocals / guitar) and Dan (bass / vocals) – it certainly appears to be their time. Hard-earned opportunities they are grabbing with both hands.
Taking to the stage to a pumping techno intro the brothers fist pump with their powerhouse drummer Mitch Pike before hitting the initial rising riffs and dark beats of ‘Adrenalin’; a track that caught my immediate attention at the recent launch of their debut album ‘What I Have Already Found’. Jas’ soaring vocals have a remarkable crispness that counter the brooding riffs atop hard-punching rhythms.
As Mitch pounds the skins there’s only time for Jas to make a quick thankyou between songs before he along with Dan join forces with their thundering percussionist to imbue a storm with the searing fusewire that is ‘Defend’. “We’re gonna bring it down a little” announces Jas as the triumvirate release stadium-ready anthem ‘It’s Not Over’ with it’s emotionally drenched and infectious chorus that is redolent of the best the likes of The Stereophonics have to offer; gentle in character yet simultaneously strong.
With Dan’s brooding rhythmic bass and Jas’ precise six-string fret work built upon the rock-solid foundation of Mitch the atmospheric ‘If There’s Any Reason’ hits a high ceiling musically.
Next up ‘Desolate’ hails back to the brothers days performing as Rude Tiger; it’s a track that, in 2013, saw them win a worldwide battle of the bands in Thailand! Jas’s vocals are a shade deeper and the brothers’ harmonies are effortlessly delivered as the trio head into a heavier arena. The anthemic ‘Sound of Rain’ wraps a wondrous half hour with its delicious vocal harmonies and sensitively despatched six-string solo. All gathered here will remember their name for sure.
The wolf emits forth a bloodletting howl; the sun begins to sink below the horizon. Inside the sand-blasted wooden chapel the minister looks around nervously. His congregation are decomposing before his eyes; skin and bone turns to dust. There appears to be no hope. A figure walks out of the sunset silhouetted against the golden orb and opens the chapel door. It’s showtime, a new sort of preacher is in town!
Unleashing his Zakk Wylde Audio Viking V Jack is in no mood for messing about! Straight into the heavy pulsing blues-edged rock of ‘Straight To Hell’ the six-strings begin to shred the demonic forces at work with the stage, most appropriately bathed in red light. The hard as nail rhythms generated by the duo of Lazarus Michaelides (bass) and Felipe Amorim (drums) crush what is left for good measure. Metallica-esque riffs aplenty and a cracking solo leaves no doubt of intent.
Continuing with ‘The Hammer Falls’, the title track off the forthcoming new release, onstage matters truck along and as Jack holds a pick aloft to the heavens so the wolf howls once again. He comments “This looks amazing. It’s an absolute pleasure to be here” before announcing another new track ‘Down By The River’; a basement dwelling rocker that strikes a sonorous concussive uppercut. The wolf won’t be sleeping tonight.
Jack is clearly enthralled and smiles broadly as he requests “Let’s hear it for Ang!” as he wryly observes “It’s amazing that here’s a loud rock bar and you can still hear her!”.
A hard-riffing intro, smoke billows and Felipe stalks his kit striking, unconventionally, his high-hat with the non-business end of this stick whilst Jack slices a meaty solo. Welcome to the stateliness of ‘Call Of The Wild’.
Switching to his most distinctive Warhammer Viking V Jack and his compatriots turn it right up to eleven for ‘a roaring version of Justified’ before rolling right into the rip-roaring ‘Haunted Bones’ with Lazarus raising the ‘horns’ to bring in this rumbustious track.
The solid-as-you-like trio are right on the mark and pay full homage to Sabbath with a masteful full-on fire-breathing rambunctious take on ‘War Pigs’ with The Patriot choir in full resonant voice.
Mid-set the pace changes with a switch to an acoustic guitar for an emotionally charged ‘I Will Follow You’. Jack explains “This one’s for my dad who’s been diagnosed with alzhiemers and is sadly now in a home”. Lifted from 2019s ‘Who Feeds The Wolf?’ you can’t help be moved by this mellifluous delight.
The infectious earworm that is ‘Deal With The Devil’ is followed up by the sizzling ‘Hip Slickin’ as the momentum builds palpably. Such are the forces at work that Jack takes a moment to repair his guitar with strings parting way the bridge. “These guitars are meant to be indestructible” quips Jack as he actions the necessary repairs.
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM