@Newcastle The Cluny/The Cluny 2, June 16 2016
Deep Purple’s Burn remains a popular cover for bands with charismatic vocalists looking to prove their class – and their classic rock credentials. Follow it to the letter and it’s a sure-fire crowd pleaser but tinker with one of the genre’s most iconic anthems (as David Coverdale did on the disastrous Purple album last year) and it’s an accident waiting to happen.
Unless you’re Inglorious and Nathan James is your singer.
A quite spectacular acoustic take on the Purple standard – with various band members casually swapping instruments and confidently challenging the status quo – took The Cluny by surprise and caught the imagination of a capacity crowd. There’s something very special about this assured quintet and their ascent shows no sign of slowing.
Big Boy Bloater’s steady rise to the blues rock summit may be more measured but while Inglorious rolled out the bulk of their self-titled debut to a full house upstairs, The Cluny’s smaller basement venue played host to another artist bound for bigger and better things. Going head-to-head with James and co. probably didn’t help but at least the talented singer-songwriter could laugh about the lack of support for his Luxury Hobo tour – admitting he didn’t anticipate such a select gathering when penning the tune I Got The Feeling Someone’s Watching Me.
It’s just one of a slew of groove-laden blues tracks peppering both sides of 2016’s brilliant Luxury Hobo album and the first half hour of Bloater’s show mined a rich seam of new material. I Love You (But I Can’t Stand Your Face) bristled with a familiarly skewed sense of humour while the foreboding stomp of It Came Out Of The Swamp shook the foundations of one of Tyneside’s cosier venues. Bloater and his band (The Limits) deserved more support for a memorable set but the party was happening up the stairs and around the corner.
Inglorious arrived in the North East on the back of a brief but brilliant Download set. And they left with their big reputation fully intact.
More of that in a moment. But if we’re talking reputation-building sets then a word on the wonderful Western Sand. As far back as December 2013 (during a stint opening up for Black Star Riders and The Dead Daisies) an intoxicating brand of heavy southern rock prompted RUSHONROCK to comment on ‘a swagger well beyond their tender years’. That self-confidence is still self evident and in the stirring Black Water Resolution – one of five bullish tracks on the game changing Cut You Down To Size EP – the Sand men have realised their songwriting potential. They look and sound like British rock’s next big thing. Who knows why it hasn’t happened just yet.
Inglorious were that band 12 months ago but in the blink of an eye the Frontiers-backed classic rock throwback have reached the next level. And then some. Their self-titled album – bursting with passion and bravado – has shifted more than 10,000 copies in just five months and heavy rotation on Planet Rock Radio has propelled James and his buddies firmly into the public eye.
But with intense hype and widespread praise come high expectations. And so many rising stars have flattered to deceive when faced with the stark reality of delivering live.
Not so, Inglorious. Whether breathing new life into I Surrender or offering a tantalising taste of things to come with brand new track No Good For You, this was a show built on self-belief and unshakable poise. Guitarists Wil Taylor and Andreas Eriksson evoke memories of Clarke and Collen in their Pyromania-era prime – an effortless partnership just as likely to improvise as they are to race through the rousing Holy Water with a steely professionalism.
And James – as comfortable chatting with the crowd as he is belting out the high notes – will more than hold his own when it comes to sharing a stage with David Coverdale, Joey Tempest and Ricky Warwick at the Ramblin’ Man festival in five week’s time.
Don’t miss that. And don’t miss the next chapter in the remarkable story that is Inglorious. There was a time when it seemed British rock had reached a dispiriting dead end. Thanks to bands like Inglorious, Buffalo Summer and The Temperance Movement there’s new light at the end of the tunnel.