Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
Some days at work are tough, real tough. Then there are those days when you hand is forced into acknowledging that somebody didn’t adhere to the strict advisory regarding not feeding the gremlins in the post-midnight hours.
It’s the last night of what has been a second successful UK tour, this year, for hard-rolling Stateside rockers The L.A. Maybe. However, it’s going to be one of those days today. For awaiting in the wings and scuttling about the Cobblestones’ double pantile roof, amongst the red-bricked chimney stacks, there’s a veritable plague of dark green leathery skinned reptilian critters. Troublemaking afoot.
To their absolute credit these five hard-working lads, from the south of Carolina, are undeterred. For in the face of adversity they roll up their metaphorical sleeves and put on a cracking set for those gathered on what is a rather chilly night. Flying right in the face of errant front-line monitors, uncooperative in-ear systems, and mischievous microphones we’re treated to, a shade over, 90 minutes of high-grade kerosene combustive rock n’ roll.
It certainly is a long road to success in the rock industry however there’s a sense that this quintet is well along this particular freeway. A month prior to flying into the UK The L.A. Maybe were sharing the stage with the likes of Vixen, Black Label Society, Sebastian Bach, and Kiss on the latter’s cruise off the Western seaboard of the USA. This tour has seen them as special guests at Sheffield’s Winter Rocks festival before heading to firmly established venues such as The Waterloo, Bannermans and The Patriot.
Roaring up the highway the band hit the stage to the emphatic strains of Van Halen before inviting everyone to ‘Play Hard’ by bringing, early-doors, a nectareous slice of AC/DC to the rock n’ roll party. With the gutsy kryptonite rocking of ‘Mr. Danger’ the carousing is well and truly underway. Vocalist Goliath Furr despatches a non-compliant mic stand side-stage, the gremlins, uninvited, have commenced their meddling.
Six-stringers Dallas Dwight and Drizzle Silvera lay down Joe Walsh melded with Slash fashioned groove in ‘She’s Reckless’ whilst bassist Rahsaan Lacey despatches an awe-inspiring output from his equally stringed instrument. All atop drummer Ryan Fosnow’s strongarm percussive forces whilst the heavyweight pugilistic vocals of Furr take no prisoners. Raising the ’horns’ to his forehead he belts out the chorus.
Three songs in and the gremlins cackle; their employment is underway. Devilment inaugurated as not one, but two front-line monitors take a wayward course off their placements. However, this freight-train isn’t for derailing. With a cargo of precious magmatic titanium rocking ore, hauled out of the very depths of the earth, a ‘Sucker Punch’ is juggernauted with Furr, rather appropriately roaring “If I’m gonna go down, it might as well be in flames!”
Furr, an absolute bear of a man and a gentle soul to boot, roars “Bullshit! You guys are awesome tonight. Are you ready to kick some arse?” Replete with howling guitaring from Dwight and Silvera serious boots are being applied to collective backsides. Skid Row’s ‘Monkey Business’, ironic given the impish interventions of the night, punches hard and fast.
The exalted grinding gears are notched upwards in the weighty groove of ‘Take Me Away’ with a spicy underpinning of ‘Unskinny Bop.’ Dwight’s Les Paul ululates full of lunar energies, with the last full moon of the year now waning towards the winter solstice.
A brand-new track is unleashed from its cage; ‘The Long Road’ southern infused to its core, ultimately is representative of the essence of the band’s home state. Furr, undaunted by the unwarranted gremlin attention, pours his heart and soul into his vocals. Searching for a front-line output he takes to bended knee to the side of Drizzle for a time. Such is the quality that the final product emanating from the PA remains top dollar.
The good time rock n’ roll of ‘Up Next To You’ is a notable convoy of AC/DC riffing and Bon Scott vocals that envelope a heartlands vibe reminiscent of the Allman Brothers alloyed with Tom Petty. The deleterious gremlins are far from done; a faulty mic cable knocks the vocals out of action. Mercifully, the quick reflexes of Furr sees him grabbing Lacey’s mic as the lead singer defiantly raises his ‘horns.’ Devils be damned!
A swift application of technical intervention sees a change of cable, so Drizzle looks at his partner-in-crime “I think it’s time Dallas!” Indulging in a jazzy interlude the pair noodle some prime-time elevator music with Rahsaan and Ryan keenly joining in the act. The latter commenting “We’re almost there. We’re on the 10th floor going up to the 20th!”
With the errable cable replaced Furr enquires “Are you starting to warm up? I’m here, are you here?” before roaring rebelliously “Let’s fucking do this!” Bursting forth, through the smog of dry ice, with the force of a failing dam ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ crashes through the ether ramping up to a crescendo. A wag in the crowd requests “Now do November Rain!” Quick as a flash, with a sparkle in his eye, Goliath retorts “We’ll play it backwards for ya!”
The southern country charms of ‘Peace of Mind’ are steeped in the redolence of the kin of Lynryrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers and Black Crowes. A triumphant twin lead break trucks into a medley of a hillbilly rendition of Star Wars before highwaying through ‘Hotel California,’ ‘Fade To Black’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town.’ All clear indicatives of the band’s influences.
With Goliath slipping off-stage for a thoroughly deserved break Dallas picks up the vocal duties and stuns one and all with pin-point versions of Prince’s classics ‘Kiss’ and ‘Purple Rain.’ Replete with shimmering cymbals and glitzy guitars and a funk rhythm the effect is distinguished.
‘Down To Fight’ the latest single snarls with teeth bared and glinting in the moonlight. A spot of tenacious cowbell from Ryan with a three-way rocking despatch out front gives an amalgam of Skid Row and Motley Crue that blends potently with Goliath’s multi-faceted vocals.
The epic ‘When I’m Gone’ is, most emotively, dedicated by Goliath to those who have tragically taken their lives. To the wag who requested ‘November Rain’ look no further for this is The L.A. Maybe’s moment in that arena. With soaring licks and poignant lyrics, it’s emotions from the very top of the clouds.
The party, with gremlins now firmly arrested, reaches its climax with the funky overtones of crowd favourite ‘Oh Sugar.’ Rahsaan expertly dodges Goliath’s whirling mic stand as Drizzle and Dallas serve up some sublime exchanges before bringing the house down.
With as many twists and turns as a Hollywood blockbuster the good guys, have in traditional theme, overcome, and succeeded. All that’s missing is a befitting festive “Yippee-Ki-Yay Motherfucker!”
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM