For a lamentably brief period in the early 1990s Electric Boys looked like Europe’s answer to the Red Hot Chili Peppers with their heady brand of funky blues rock threatening to sweep aside the lame wannabes and talentless hair metal clones in their path. Conny Bloom and his Boys were the real deal.
They had the hit single (All Lips N Hips) the dizzy debut album (Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride), the striking frontman and the stellar fans – Chilis’ Anthony Keidis famously patronised the quartet after joining the Swedes on stage at Newcastle’s Riverside club.
But what they didn’t have – and in this respect Electric Boys were not alone – was the answer to grunge’s looming threat. By the time 1992’s brilliant Groovus Maximus hit stores Nirvana were already busily hammering the final nails into commercial rock’s coffin.
Two decades on and Electric Boys have never sounded better. With new album And Them Boys Done Swang reprising the band’s most successful line-up and creatively rich period the future is finally looking as rosy as the past. And Bloom is blossoming.
Watching in the wings as support bands Velvet Star and Riff X offered a heavier aperitif to the headliners’ laid back fare, it was clear the Electric Boys’ frontman couldn’t wait to get started. And he was probably keen to pass on a few tips to the support bill’s young pretenders.
Velvet Star still allow their desire for volume and punk attitude to detract from an inherent talent for crafting melodic modern metal. Turning down the volume and turning on the style must be the way forward for these hard gigging stadium dreamers.
Riff X are one step ahead with a more focused approach to an emotion-fuelled live set. Female-fronted metal bands are ten-a-penny in 2012 but this lot have the hooks to stand out from the crowd – and comfortably eclipse major label darlings Kobra And The Lotus (coincidentally supporting Buckcherry across town on the same night).
Whether either band will ever reach the ethereal plane Electric Boys exist on is open to question. Oozing confidence, exuding charm and rolling out Zeppelin-esque blues fused with Beatles-inspired melody, theirs was a set conceived in the 60s and 70s and yet perfect for 21st century. Where Electric Boys lead, modern day pretenders Vintage Trouble and Rival Sons look to follow – aspiring to such heights is a canny move for two of retro rock’s buzz bands.
Bloom’s magical versions of Mary In The Mystery World, Groovus Maximus, Rags To Riches and the aforementioned All Lips N Hips had a modest yet loyal Trillians crowd lapping up every note – to be so close to such a well-oiled musical machine was a truly special experience.
Electric Boys could and should have been so much bigger. That they failed to enjoy the commercial rewards their considerable talent deserved is scant consolation to Bloom and co. but it means gigs like these – in intimate clubs on cold November nights – are a sensational reality. And for that rock fans everywhere should be mightily thankful.