Sunday 6th November 2016
What is it about multi-national rockers Blues Pills and the British weather? We first saw the up and coming Swedish Psychedelic, Blues and Hard Rockers in the rain at Ramblin' Man Fair in July 2015. Last Sunday night we caught them again as part of their current European tour - and it was still pissing down as we left for London's Koko! The tour followed their Nuclear Blast label release this year of their much anticipated second album 'Lady in Gold', produced by Don Alsterberg, which went straight to #1 in the German album charts in its first week of sale. Would the band featuring Zack Anderson (bass), vocalist Elin Larsson, André Kvarnström (drums), guitarist Dorian Sorriaux plus new member Rickard Nygren (organ/guitar) - transport us once again back to the halcyon ‘70’s? Truly international support from Slovenia's Slay Train and the Sabbath-style riff of Germany's Kadavar - certainly warmed the Koko punters up - although I wonder how many in the audience knew that this tour was a co-headliner and indeed that Blues Pills label mates Kadavar were touring in support of their critically acclaimed last album 'Berlin' which charted at #18 in the German album charts upon its release in August 2015?
Nygren's keyboard intro on 'Lady In Gold' - the first and title track from their new CD - not only demonstrated a natural progression and welcome addition to Blues Pills arsenal, but also threw in an ingredient of soul as well as an immediate opportunity for Sorriaux to get in some early guitar chops and for Elin to demonstrate her vocal power and range. Despite the fact that the PA went down for about a minute on the second track from 'LIG' 'Little Boy Preacher' - Blues Pills prayers were answered as they manfully soldiered on thanks to Sorriaux's penetrating guitar riff and Kvarnström pounding drumming. Kvarnström's drum intro heralded the third track from the new album 'Bad Talkers' which showcased the rapport of Larsson's soulful voice and the 70's feel of Sorriaux's guitar, before melting into a fourth straight track from their new album - the groovy and upbeat 'Won't Go Back' - further reaffirming Blues Pills confidence in their new release. Former single 'Black Smoke' took us back to that wet July day last year - taken from their self titled debut album - the appeal of Sorriaux's weaving guitar still as hypnotising tonight as it was then.
And if you wanted proof of the influence of Hendrix then 'Bliss' - the title track from their very first EP was testament to the fact that these guys can mix Psychadelic Blues with the best. The slower and Bluesy 'Little Sun' - from their first album was followed by the Tony Joe White cover 'Elements And Things' - a staple at Blues Pills gigs - so much so that the clamour for it to be included on an album was duly recognised on 'LIG'. And you could see why as Sorriaux's distorted guitar went into riff/solo overdrive, complemented by Larrson's delivery plus the engine room of Anderson's bass and Kvarnström's drumming. The stand out for me on the night. Back to 'LIG' and the funky 'You Gotta Try' got everyone jumping as well as Elin - and talking of, ahem, 'High Class Woman' - this first track and single from their first album - with its drum/bass beat intro - never fails to entice you in to a classic which is the epitome of Blues Pills - with both Larrson and Sorriaux in their respective element's. And sure enough they finished this great set with two more from their first album - the pacey but groovy 'Ain't No Change' and 'Devil Man' with its trademark Bluesy acapella intro from Larrson before the track launched into another Sorriaux guitarfest. And as for their encore - and just to drive home the undoubted versatility of Blues Pills - Elin's piano solo on 'I Felt A Change' saw them at their most sensitive - you could hear the proverbial pin drop - whilst another from 'LIG' - 'Rejection' - was a total contrast harking back to the glorious psychedelia of their early EP's, before they finished with the beautiful 'Gone So Long' and its mesmeric drumbeat - again from 'LIG'. Similar to Ramblin' Man - the crowd had forgotten about the crap weather and wanted more! It's fair to say that based on tonight's excellent set - and the fact that Blues Pills only omitted one track from 'Lady In Gold' - this was most definitely not a case of second album syndrome! Blues Pills finish their European Tour at home in Malmo, Sweden, on Saturday 3rd December.