Rock ‘n’ roll is not dead, at least not if Rival Sons and The London Souls had anything to say about it at Irving Plaza last week. The two bands, who’ve been touring together brought a straight up 70’s era Zeppelin-infused classic rock howl to New York city to the delight of the sold out crowd.
First up was the New York based duo, The London Souls. This duo of guitarist/vocalist Tash Neal, and drummer Chris St. Hilaire carry on like they’re penning one long love letter to the delta blues of yore, written in an ink that screams, “We’ve got fuzz filled guitars until our love comes back to us!” The band pumps out a lot of neo-psychedelic noise, with little chatter. They’ve got a business-like approach, compact in their riffs and drum beats that are accentuated with Neal’s deep voice. The name might say London, but the attitude is all about their homeland’s greatest gift to the world: bluesy rock.
I’m not sure the crowd was ready for what came next: the dark comedic poetry of Derrick Brown. I think that when you see poet on the bill, the instant reaction is: “WTF?!” But man was that ever a premature reaction. Brown was hilarious from the get go, riffing on everything from his time in the military to his raucous love letter to his friend, the lead singer of Rival Sons, titled “I Hate Jay Buchanan”. Brown’s work is dark and extremely cathartic for the topsy turvy times we live in. Perhaps his shining moment came as he wryly told the crowd, “You thought I was going to suck. Didn’t you?” And hey, when you’re reading a deeply erotic and explicit poem about sex, there might not be anything funnier than a smiling audience member holding up a brightly lit cell phone with “JESUS” glowing on it’s screen. And don’t think Brown didn’t notice or revel in that moment.
And then it was time for Rival Sons to take over. And take over they did from guitar god, and part-time evil genius, Scott Holiday’s opening licks. Couple those with lead singer, Jay Buchanan’s piercing Robert Plant-esque howls and you’ve got the recipe for one powerful rock monster being unleashed.
Rival Sons, spent the better part of last year touring in support of the legendary Black Sabbath, and it’s easy to hear that if this band was born 20-30 years ago, that they would’ve been one of the largest bands on the planet. These California natives have the rock n roll swagger baked into their DNA. Screaming choruses, guitar solos that could go on for days, and a rhythm section that works its way into your soul.
The band delved into plenty of their hits, from the crowd pleasers like Pressure and Time to Electric Man and their closer Keep on Swinging. The band evokes sonic riffs reminiscent of Eric Burdon, The Sonics, and pretty much any great American rocker born out of the electric rock birth of the 60s and carried on by bands across the pond like Zeppelin and Cream.
It felts as though every time that Buchanan slowed things down to chat with the crowd, he was giving his pipes and the band a moment to recharge before they blasted a wall of sound at the capacity crowd that was screaming and singing along all night long. In an era of YouTube pop stars and prefabricated teeny boppers this was a band at the peak of its powers announcing that rock ‘n’ roll will never truly die.
Article: Omar Kasrawi