Thursday 14th July 2022
The Beaverwood, Chislehurst
Nominated as “Best Emerging Blues Artist Of The Year” in this year's UK Blues Awards, and hailed as one of the UK’s most exciting new Blues Rock bands that features two female lead vocalists, it was a classic sliding doors moment last Thursday night, that I finally ended my Brave Rival drought at Chislehurst's The Beaverwood. Suffice to say that both the postponement of my Thursday night footie, plus being let down on a ticket for His Lordship at The 100 Club, featuring ex-Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne, meant that I'd now be getting my sassy in Kent instead of London.
And to be honest, there couldn't have been a better place to watch live music on this beautiful Summer's evening, in this very impressive air-conditioned marquee. Indeed, with plans in place to resurrect the old club, some have questioned why they don't make this temporary venue permanent. Anyway, I digress.
In early May, Brave Rival released their highly acclaimed debut album, 'Life’s Machine', of which our take at the time was that "This is an outstanding debut and will undoubtedly be one of the standout albums of the year." Praise indeed. Not only that, but at London's 100 Club in April, we saw the quintet support the Billy Walton Band. Our review that night ended with "They were great and are definitely worth making the effort to see if they come by your neck of the woods." Enough said.
And sure enough, just a month after playing to a packed Kashmir stage at The Isle Of Wight Festival, tonight a healthy number had indeed made the effort to see them, deservedly as headliners, over two sets with no support. Although, being a Brave Rival virgin, I was in fact familiar with their very talented engine room of drummer Donna Peters and bassist Bill Dedman from their days with Albany Down (and Fuzzwalker), who graced both our July WRC BluesRockFest and our Xmas Bash in 2015. Happy days. However, for their latest tour, in addition to the combined vocals of Chloe Josephine and Lindsay Bonnick, plus lead guitarist Ed "The Shred" Clarke, tonight they had also added a very welcome extra dimension of keys in the shape of Paul Quinn, given Jonny Henderson had originally played on the album.
"Are you ready?" as the sextet duly launched into their high adrenalin riff driven opener and second single, 'Heart Attack', that only highlighted the aforementioned tight and crunchy playing of Peters and Dedman, but also the first, and by no means the last, powerhouse duet from Josephine and Bonnick. Complementing each other on a Summer's evening just like strawberries and cream, the sassy duo then dispatched their first single, 'Guilty Love', reminiscent of an eighties Rock classic, with Quinn also to the fore. "Hands up who's wearing Life's Machine t-shirts?", Lindsay demanded. A fair few it seemed, before the slower, sentimental, 'Without You', with its beautiful harmonies, rocking guitars and driving rhythms, featured another one of the many outstanding guitar solos from Ed "The Shred" on the night. Probably not a great idea to air your dirty washing in front of an audience, but the fired up passion exuded by Bonnick to her "git of an ex-boyfriend" certainly came across loud and clear, on the next gut punching Rock anthem, 'Secrets', one of many highlights from the set.
Quinn then took full advantage of his opportunity to tinkle his Roland, on Etta James's 'Damn Your Eyes', that also saw some marvellous guitar and vocal harmonies traded between Clarke, Josephine and Bonnick. Back to the album, and 'Thin Ice', with its catchy, heavy riff, two-part fiery vocals and a chant, that unsurprisingly saw the whole of the marquee joining in with. There was no time for Billy to 'Run and Hide' from some jokey diva banter from Chloe and Lindsay, before they played the track of the same name, that also featured some incredible drumming from Donna on this adrenaline fuelled, high energy and catchy as hell banger! Finishing off the first set, Josephine took the outstanding lead on the Bluesy 'Come Down', that also saw another awesome solo scorcher from Clarke. What a first half!
After reminiscing with the delightful Donna and Billy during their well-earned break, we returned to find five chairs spread across the front of the stage. Cue two beautiful acoustically seated numbers including Donna on guitar, firstly the new, 'For The One's', that was written during Lockdown, and then secondly, going "back to their roots", a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's 'Sound Of Silence', that they used to play when they were an all-girl trio. With the chairs now put away, we returned to the album title track, a heart wrenching and spine tingling Rock ballad, again written during lockdown, before the baby girl banter between Lindsay and new Mum Chloe, lightened things up a bit, as an Aretha inspired Gospel intro lead us into 'Fool Of You', with its funky groove, a dollop of Soul and a splash of Rock, complemented by Billy's sexy bassline plus Paul's keys.
A rockin' cover of The Box Tops 'The Letter', not only saw an amazing opening guitar solo from "The Shred", but later an audience singing competition, with the left and right sides both competing with the chorus, "My Baby Wrote Me A Letter", before the Portsmouth based band completed their set with Bonnick's close and intimate heartfelt vocals on their masterpiece, 'Long Time Coming'. Ironically, the first encore, the epic 'Break Me', saw another burning solo from Ed, despite being hampered by a broken guitar string, and after paying tribute to the audience, they rewarded those luckily enough to be present with "The Shred's" slide cajun sounding intro to 'What's Your Name Again?', as Chloe slipped off her shoes for one final gargantuan vocal, that also showcased impressive solos from Billy, Donna and Ed. Delivering super charged melodies in the highest of registers to try and blow this marquee away, tonight Brave Rival performed a cracking set of Rock and Blues classics with both a high intensity and a moving visual feast! "What's Your Name?" - "Brave Rival!"