Home Gigs Gig Review : Sons Of Liberty with support from Black Water Redemption Patriot – Home of Rock, Crumlin

Gig Review : Sons Of Liberty with support from Black Water Redemption Patriot – Home of Rock, Crumlin

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Review by Gary Spiller for MPM

Bringing their heady blend of southern rock and hard rolling to the Welsh Valleys Bristol’s finest Sons Of Liberty make the relatively short hop across the country spanning bridge over the Severn. It’s a much-anticipated visit, one fully over a year since the quintet last graced Crumlin’s Patriot venue.

The Patriot is a venue proud of taking its deserved position amongst the best grassroots rock venues currently in the UK. Rightfully up there alongside the likes of Leo’s in Gravesend and Blackpool’s Waterloo Bar it’s fast becoming a ‘rights of passage’ for many acts, aspiring and established alike. A glance at forthcoming shows sees burgeoning talents Laurence Jones, Dan Byrne, King Kraken, Beth Blade nestling alongside Blaze Bailey, Cherie Currie, Raven and Gun.

Stirring from their winter slumbers this evening’s headliners can reflect upon a hugely successful 2022. Countless festival appearances at the likes of Rockstock and Winter’s End in addition to supporting FM and Grand Slam and even nipping across the Channel for the Raismes Festival in France all added up to a year to remember. With new material in the offing there’s much to look forward to in 2023. Along with a show, the following night, in Weston-Super-Mare, this weekend is the perfect warm-up for the Sons ahead of the highly vaunted co-headline UK tour with Stateside rockers Preacher Stone.

The Sons have brought the immense talents of South coast hard rocking act Black Water Redemption to open proceedings on this brace of gigs. Many will recollect Western Sand, the previous incarnation of BWR, a band with huge potential who announced their splitting at last year’s Nozfest in their hometown of Southampton. Mercifully the last of one became the first of another as a transition in a redirection of energies and focus was announced.

An eerie western-themed intro swirls in competition with the dry ice fogging the dimly lit stage as Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood’s character ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan probing his oft-misquoted line “You gotta ask yourself one question. ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya punk?” Obviously, our friends from the South coast do, fortune favours the brave as the saying goes.

Emboldened they set about coupling new tracks ‘All Guns Blazing’ and ‘Devil On Your Shoulders’ together. A knockout 1-2 without any doubt with the former, appropriately a 44 Magnum rip-roarer of a track. Drummer Zoot Hill-Vallier, clearly enjoying the expanses of kit he’s surrounded with, lays down a storming beat along with bassist Dan De Vries. Whilst alongside, Tyler Haines and Jimmy Bradshaw’s low-slung guitars take focused pot-shots.

Frontman Tyler, a bit under the weather with a cold, apologises “I’m a little hoarse tonight, I’ll do my best to get through this set” adding “A big thankyou to all who work here. Great to see a proper rock bar. We’ve wanted to play here for a long time.”

As arenaceous as the desert plains the gritty ‘Tombstones and Deadwood’ – opening track of their debut EP ‘The Angels Share And The Devils Cut’ – is heralded by Jimmy’s Gibson Les Paul howling through the night airs. Lunar forces are employed in this gunslinging jailbreaking rock n’ roller.

Reflecting on the Western Sand days Tyler explains how they came to cover Mountain’s track ‘Mississippi Queen.’ “We played it [originally] to see who was gonna play lead guitar” continuing “We both ended up playing lead!” It brought back memories of 2017’s Giants Of Rock festival where both Corky Laing (drummer of Mountain) and Western Sand both blew the roof with their respective versions of this legendary track.

With the devil’s red-eyed herd tearing across the lofty prairies the stunning twin lead six-strings resonate deeply. A rumbling bass and avalanche drumming cascading ‘Mississippi Queen’ is rock right at its most resplendent eliciting a loud “Hell yeah!” from within the ranks of the crowd.

The hell bound express ‘Going Down’ hints of a pact signed with the underworldly overlords with a solo of the highest order of precision unleashed. Splitting the barrel of spirits in equal halves the wonderfully entitled ‘The Angels Share And The Devils Cut’ begs the enquiry of which 50% first.

Closing with the bone pulverising pairing of ‘Welcome To The Badlands’ and ‘Nothing To Lose’, the latter providing the answer as to how a melding of AC/DC and ZZ Top would actually sound, BWR salute their Western Sand ancestry whilst taking a firm hand on the tiller to navigate into a promising future.

With a fearsome reputation for hard graft and touring the Sons Of Liberty have garnered a loyal and faithful following as borne witness to with countless t-shirts worn by the crowd. A word-perfect knowledge of their songs demonstrative of the depth of affection in which these five gents are deservedly held. Their back catalogue, consisting of two EPs and an equal number of albums, is projected to be added to later in the year with ongoing work in the studio and practise room.

Within a set nudging the hour and half mark in which their four releases, thus far, are dipped into the Sons play their cards to max effect turning up the heat within the Patriot with reckless abandon. A triple salvo from their debut album, 2018’s ‘Animism’, coincidentally the opening three tracks, sets the bar high right from the starting line.

A cooling wind blows, welcomingly, across the barren Badlands. Somewhere way off in the distance, out of view in the great unknown, a brass section noodles a Mexican-style refrain. Noiselessly the band stride forth on to the Patriot stage. With a refined choice in lines of head and footwear SOL set about rocking the Valleys to the very core. The very coolest of dudes on this side of the Severn for sure.

Out front vocalist Rob Walker is an imperturbable presence who holds the centre-ground assuredly whilst either side of him the twin Gibson growl of the Les Pauls of Fred Hale and Andy ‘Moose’ Muse spark incendiary. Under the bandana of bass Mark Thomas lays down a four-string rhythm that couples with freight-train strengths with the Richter registering applications of schooled drummer Steve Byrne.

The explosive ‘It’s My Bad’ sets the neighbourhood on fire with the swiftly following ‘Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief’ fanning the flames. Rob, blowing a kiss crowdwards, sheds his heavy overcoat (didn’t think that would last long in the cauldron under the Patriots’ lights) before leading the crowd in the singalong chorus.

Fred whittles mighty AC/DC-edged riffs from his full loaded smoking six-string, the swiftest draw in town. Barrelling headlong over the waterfall’s edge the Sons continue to ably fuel the firestorm with ‘Up Shit Creek’ delivering an igneous musical sermon from the deep south to complete the initial hat-trick.

Engaging in some emotional beard envy with a member of the crowd Rob engages whilst a well-earned breather is taken. Playlisted by Planet Rock, upon release, ‘Damaged Reputation’, snarling guitars to the fore, is the first of nine tracks deep-mined from the rich ore-bearing lode that 2021’s ‘Aces And Eights’ album was drawn from. Galloping with a freight yard attitude this a band clearly enjoying life.

The highly attuned bloodhound hits the trail on the hunt in the glorious ‘Texas Hill County’ before the southern ballad ‘Black Blizzard’, rarely played live, is given an emotive outing. “There’s some good ol’ southern rock right there” exclaims an unseen crowd member. Can’t argue with that one!

Seamlessly transitioning into the classic ‘Don’t Hide Behind Your Weakness’ the Sons are in full swing. The Badlands rocker ‘Dixie Whiskey’ takes a trek across to the ‘Aged In Oak’ EP, the release that kick-started this journey. No Beaujolais needed here, purely the bourbon-soaked overtures.

The blues-edged southern balladic charms of ‘I Come In Peace’ comes with a blue-collar seasoning of Springsteen. Something I’d not noted, for some reason, before this evening. With swaggering bluesy tonnage ‘Dead Man’s Hand,’ another rarely played track, drops the Rolling Stones headfirst into the bayou. ‘Free Man’ charts a twelve bar rocking course entwined with a southern states drawl that has Mark and Fred shimmying together to the beat. Heads in the crowd nod along agreeably.

Working towards the hour mark a low rumble emanates from the PA and ‘Damned If I Do’ detonates into life. “Any vegans in the room” enquires Rob, looking about for a response, before noting “Nope, we won’t upset anyone then!” Injecting a humorous slab into the set the riotously stomping ‘Beef Jerky Boogie’ extols the virtues of meat-based food as the Sons pay homage to Cream by taking ZZ Top across to Rosedale for a jam session. With its Skynyrd-saluting solo ‘Brotherhood’ trucks along with a breakneck momentum.

Resolutely flammable with meaty power chords dunked in 110% proof southern spirits ‘Fire & Gasoline’ and the powerhouse ‘Ruby Starr’ prove a cataclysmic finale to the evening. The Sons are back on the road and 2023 promises much!

Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM

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