Inglorious — MMXXI Live At The Phoenix (Frontiers)

If the defining measure of band is its ability to deliver on the live stage then it’s Inglorious setting the standards in 2022.

The glossy outliers of the NWOCR scene are cut from the same cloth as Coverdale-Hughes era Deep Purple.

Performance is all and passion is the key.

Of course, it helps when your frontman boasts a set of pipes that could power the nation through the current energy crisis.

And where Inglorious once lacked that vital ingredient of togetherness, Nathan James’ current band of brothers boasts a seemingly unbreakable bond. 

There’s no doubt the dizzying addition of Danny De La Cruz has done wonders for a live show that looks as good as it sounds.

Inglorious’ sorcerer of the six strings is like a baby Sambora as he dances across his fretboard like a kid in a sweetshop.

De La Cruz provides the eye candy and the sugar-coated solos as the flawless foil for the charismatic James.

And MMXXI Live At The Phoenix provides both men with the perfect platform to steal the show.

There’s a chemistry and a cohesion at the heart of Inglorious Mk IV (or III…we’ve kinda lost count).

That unity’s captured perfectly by a live album showcasing quality songwriting and a band having fun.

If Inglorious were to call it a day with MMXXI Live At The Phoenix then James could look back with pride on a job well done.

But this staging post on the road to rock and roll glory sounds more like the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end, for a band with plenty more to give.

MMXXellent Work From Inspired Inglorious

As a rather cumbersome title, MMXXI Live At The Phoenix doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.

No matter.

Its heady mix of old and new explodes through the speakers like a clarion call for retro-fuelled classic rock.

A thrilling snapshot of a band in the ascendancy captures the very best of five consistent and compelling studio albums to date.

And given the disruption he faced during the early years it’s incredible to think James has still amassed this bold and brilliant body of work.

The band’s 2021 tour was a post-lockdown triumph that allowed Inglorious to add tracks from We Will Ride and covers album Heroine into the mix.

Both records had been released earlier in the year and the latter gained widespread praise as James paid heartfelt tribute to his favourite female artists.

It’s fitting, therefore, that a barnstorming version of the Heart classic Barracuda emerged as the standout performance at Exeter’s Phoenix.

Earlier, the canny juxtaposition of Messiah and Breakaway allowed James to put the pedal to the metal after a strangely below-par blast of She Won’t Let You Go.

Nerves? The mix not quite right? Who knows?

Needless to say, that false start mattered little as Inglorious launched into a magnificent take on Messiah and nailed just about everything else thereafter.

I Don’t Need Your Loving never sounded better as James — on the road with Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds this month — launched into the towering tune that’s always suited him best.

And set closer Until I Die enabled a cohesive and focused unit to leave a frenzied full house in no doubt that Inglorious’ time is now.

The blues rock behemoths of the 70s would live or die by their live performances. 

On this evidence Inglorious is alive and kicking.