Sunday 30th July 2017
Mote Park, Maidstone
Blues Pills are a Swedish Rock band, formed in Örebro in 2011 and consist of Elin Larsson on vocals, French guitar maestro Dorian Sorriaux, Zack Anderson on bass guitar and new boy André Kvarnström on drums and percussion. They released their debut studio album ‘Blues Pills’ in July 2014 on the German record label Nuclear Blast. Their second studio album ‘Lady in Gold’ was released in August 2016, also on Nuclear Blast. The striking album cover design for both albums was created by the Dutch artist Marijke Koger-Dunham, originally from the 60’s design collective known as ‘The Fool’, where she worked on designs for bands such as Procol Harum, The Move, Cream and the Beatles.
The Blues Pills sound can be described as retro late 60’s/early 70’s Heavy Rock. Despite this retro reference their sound is very much relevant to the present time, played with youthful vigor it is very much happening and current, acknowledging the great rock music structure and sonic textures of the classic 60’s/70’s era, with influences that range from Cream, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Deep Purple, early Fleetwood Mac and Black Sabbath.
Blues Pills last appeared at the Ramblin’ Man Fair on Sunday 26th July 2015 where they were the opening act on the main stage. They woke up sleepy Kent on that rather wet Sunday afternoon and presented us with a storming blast of Sonic Rock vivacity, delivered with pure elegance and animated energetic spirit. Greg Allman headlined that day, which turned out to be his last ever UK concert before sadly passing away in May 2017.
Fast forward to Sunday 30th July 2017 where Blues Pills were third on the bill on the main stage, the only female fronted band to play the main stage over the three-day event. Thankfully the sun shone bright over Mote Park on this warm and breezy Sunday, which is in stark contrast to Saturday when the heavens opened up and pelted us with incessant rain for the majority of the day and evening! As a result of all the rain from the previous day the grassy area near the front of the stage had become a bit of a mud bath! Despite the prospect of muddy shoes and the likely hood of slipping over, loyal fans braved the mud soup to get up close and personal to support the mighty Blues Pills return to the Ramblin' Man Fair. This year, the band were augmented by the keyboard player/second guitarist Rickard Nygren.
They played an 8 song 45 minute set with the title track from their second studio album 'Lady in Gold'. This song takes on a more Soul direction, a slight departure from the Hard Rock sound of the debut album. A perfect set opener to get the audience engaged and grooving. Second song in was the sublime 'Black Smoke', the first single released in July 2012, also featured on their debut album, quickly followed by 'Bliss', taken from their first EP released back in May 2012 - an explosive mix of atmospheric swirling kaleidoscopic sound collages and mesmerizing hypnotic grooving psychedelic guitar riffs. A weaving tapestry of rich vibrant textures with shades of light and dark.
The dazzling Tony Joe White song 'Elements & Things' was up next, the first cover of the set and the closing track on their second studio album, a real tour de force. Elin and the boys rip into this one, a set favourite and mainstay for the last few years. Fifth song in was the blazing 'You Gotta Try', one of the many highlights from their second studio album. A pounding heavy bass groove keeps this one moving along with wild exuberant dancing from Elin. A rumbling bass line introduces 'High Class Woman', the lead song on their debut album, also released as a single in 2014 - a superlative song, with gutsy vocals from Elin and some tasty guitar work from Dorrian.
Dorian Sorriaux is a revelation, a first-rate, top-notch, skillful guitarist. He creates a rich melodic tone with tastefully controlled vibrato, displaying a delicate touch and dynamism not to dissimilar to the legendary Peter Green.
The second cover song, and seventh song of the set was the rousing anthemic 'Somebody To Love' by Jefferson Airplane, an inspired choice and perfect for Blues Pills. After talking to Elin after their set, she confirmed that they would be recording this song with the possibility of releasing it on an EP, hopefully before the end of the year.
The set closed with the tremendously wicked and mind-blowing 'Devil Man', released on an EP in 2013 and also featured on their debut album. Elin's voice gets to shine as she belts out the intro a cappella before the band come storming in to build up the tension and tear it up! This is one of the band's heaviest songs and always a set highlight.
Elin Larsson is a formidable and gifted singer with an outstandingly rich soulful voice, full of sparkling emotion and spirited passion. She displays an energetic zest and verve that is captivating to witness.
All the elements of Blues Pills music combine together to create an amalgam of hypnotic sounds and a dynamic cohesion of rich textures. Channeled vibrations resonate in grooves that dig down deep to the soul in a cornucopia of emotional layers.
With impressive musicianship and passionate performance Blues Pills delivered the goods.
They have just been confirmed as one of the support bands on the upcoming Black Star Riders UK tour in November 2017.
Steven C. Gilbert