Inglorious @ Newcastle Boiler Shop, February 5 2019

Inglorious or vainglorious? Believe the hype around Nathan James and it’s tempting to lean towards the latter. On the face of it, the flamboyant frontman is the definition of boastfully vain and proud: in 2018 a revolving doors line-up, amid familiar rumours of unrest within the Inglorious ranks, coupled with the odd ill-advised viral video hardly helped his cause.

But all of the above is missing the point. One man’s self-importance is another’s self-confidence. Some say arrogant, the reality is ardent. Yes, James is proud but he bloody well should be. Inglorious is the culmination of a supremely talented singer songwriter’s hopes and dreams and this brilliant band continues to fly the flag for bluesy classic rock with devilish determination. 

In fact, those who condemn James for his honesty, focus and the odd faux pas should be careful what they wish for – a world without this most charismatic of performers would be a far poorer place.

The seventh Inglorious MkIII show only served to underline the point.

Back In Black

If professional challenges, coupled with personal tragedy, had blighted the past 12 months than where better for Inglorious to get back on track than at the birthplace of Stephenson’s Rocket? At times last year James’ public and private lives were the proverbial train wreck. But in 2019 it’s full steam ahead. Before long the Boiler Shop reached boiling point.

Earlier this year Inglorious III: Ride To Nowhere revealed James’s bold new direction and during the band’s first Newcastle show since 2016 the new material came thick and fast. In the case of hotshot lead guitarist Danny Dela Cruz, lightning fast.

At the tender age of 19, the ace in the Inglorious pack looked the part and lived the dream with lick after lick demanding top billing. The Vandenberg to James’ Coverdale and the Goldy to the singer’s Dio, it could be that the talented teen is the best fit yet for a band still searching for much-needed stability. Daubed across the back of Dela Cruz’s Les Paul are the words ‘Never Underestimate’ and on this evidence nobody will.

Cruz Control

So what of the new tunes live?

James revealed that he wanted to get Glory Days done and dusted early doors but the acoustic-led ballad was a bona fide highlight. Phil Beaver jumped down from behind his kit to join the party and created a sense of chemistry in the making where the new line-up is concerned. Here’s hoping.

Where Are You Now and the pounding title track have the feel of festival favourites while I Don’t Know You portrays James as a ticking emotional timebomb. Singing is one thing – persuading the paying public that you mean every word is no easy task but Inglorious’ passionate frontman has never sounded anything less than believable.

Three albums in and James has a wealth of material at his disposal. Making Me Pay, from Inglorious II, fully deserves its place in a tight set and if Whitesnake come up with anything better on this year’s brand new album then they’re clearly winning. Encore treats Holy Water and Until I Die will always soundtrack the New Wave Of Classic Rock and Dela Cruz loved getting his teeth into both.

The last time James performed in Newcastle he thrilled an arena crowd during Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds. In truth, it’s where he belongs. And after 2018’s annus horribilis it’s where he should be going – taking his wide-eyed new recruits along for the ride.

Riff Lords

Images By Adam Kennedy