Rival Sons @Edinburgh Usher Hall, November 6 2019
Pressure And Time. Wild Animal. Electric Man. Keep On Swinging. Shooting Stars.
Five of the most compelling songs released in the last decade. All by the same band. All performed on the same night, all in the same place.
And all timeless classics which continue to cement Rival Sons’ reputation as the most relevant and rousing rock and roll band of the modern era.
As the Feral Roots tour rolls on with relentless swagger it was time for Rushonrock to revisit a quintet that continues to push the boundaries, reinvent the creative wheel and leave the opposition reeling.
We were there on the opening night of this meandering trek across the globe and since February 1 Rival Sons have upped their game, upped the tempo and upped the ante.
From a revamped production to a carefully tweaked setlist, this was a subtle reboot and a serious statement of intent.
Wild Animal was aired live for the first time in five years and its welcome return set the tone on a truly special night north of the border.
Get What’s Coming and Manifest Destiny Part 1 made their presence felt for the first time on this red hot run of shows.
And if the strutting Jay Buchanan barely uttered a word to the Usher Hall faithful, his lead vocals did the talking: pitch perfect and passionate, the flamboyant frontman sounded fresh as a daisy while his band mates blossomed.
It’s six-and-a-half years since Rival Sons stunned Edinburgh’s Picturehouse on the back of Head Down (A throaty Buchanan, by the way, required a few wee drams that night to get him through).
That famous old venue has since been transformed into a Wetherspoons but Long Beach, California’s finest are about as far from being a pub band as possible: a decade down the line and the classy rockers are chasing the arena dream.
How it hasn’t happened already remains a mystery.
Rival Sons are peerless as a retro rock act. Their music leans on the past with a prescient appreciation of the present.
They kick ass like early Kings Of Leon, kick back like vintage Cream and kick the best of the rest firmly into touch.
Buchanan’s Jim Morrison-meets-David Coverdale-meets-Robert Plant act is utterly compelling.
But he’ll never entirely steal the show when Scott Holiday is the competition.
The casually cool but effortlessly professional six stringer has the throwback vibe this brilliant band requires.
And it’s no surprise that Holiday’s trademark tone has inspired a whole new generation of blues rock heroes desperately seeking to emulate the very best in the business.
Listen to Rival Sons deliver Feral Roots’ stirring title track, the bruising Too Bad from the same album and set opener End Of Forever and it’s clear that this is, in fact, the end of the beginning.
What comes next should be main stage slots at the biggest festivals in the world, Grammys by the bucketload and that UK arena tour with the band’s name up in lights.
Anything less will be criminal.
No wonder main support The Record Company are having the time of their lives in such exalted company.
A strident set underpinned by a healthy dose of harmonica and some pretty lap steel proved the perfect aperitif to the meaty main course.
Watched keenly by The Temperance Movement’s Phil Campbell, the tidy trio wrapped things up with the apt I’m Getting Better (And I’m Feeling It Right Now). They are. And the crowd was.
Another band getting better and better is opening act The Last Internationale. A set that was as frustratingly short as it was deliciously sweet nevertheless allowed Delila Paz and Edgey Pires to tease brand new long player Soul On Fire.
This week’s must-have rock release could catapult the socially conscious New Yorkers into the mainstream…or see them sink without a trace at a time when the brave and the bold garner little real reward. Just ask Rival Sons.
Main image by Adam Kennedy