Jared James Nichols + Vambo
Thursday 18th July 2019
Boston Music Room, London
Wisconsin-bred guitarist Jared James Nichols recently returned to London on a hot Summer's night to play a well deserved headline show at Tuffnel Park's Boston Music Room supported by Vambo. JJN recently self-released his new single – 'Nails In The Coffin' and was supporting Living Colour on their UK Tour alongside Wayward Sons. Hailed as one of the most exciting new Blues Rock guitarists around, Jared is no stranger to UK audiences. In 2015 he embarked on a full European tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd, followed by an extensive UK tour supporting Glenn Hughes, where he won over critics with across-the-board rave reviews. We also saw him open the Planet Rock Main Stage at 2017's Ramblin Man Fair (also interviewing him afterwards), plus we saw him supporting Stone Broken in February 2018, and finally, supporting LA Guns at London's O2 Islington Academy in August last year.
In contrast to JJN, this was the first time I had seen Epsom powerhouse Vambo in the flesh, although the WRC have seen and interviewed them in the past, namely on the tiny Orange stage at the now sadly missed O2 Stone Free Festival back in June last year, and then five months later at HRH10 across the expanse of their main stage. Combined with airplay on Planet Rock and shows both abroad and at home (including Download 2019) - the word is that these guys are really going places. More on that later! Anyway, needless to say they exploded on to the stage in a sea of tinted glasses, hair, tattoos, beards, hats and Marshall amps, as the four-piece's Boston tea party began with a flourish of three loud n' proud tracks, namely 'Hey Willy', 'Camouflage' and 'Paradise', leaving those lucky enough to be there, to realise that they were in for a set of pure, infused, 70's inspired Rock.
Frontman Jack Stiles took time out from cavorting manically around the stage to thank the punters present, before promising to slow things down - cue Jack's excellent vocal on 'Running In Circles', matched by the awesome chops of guitarist Pete Lance - before launching straight into the unashamed Coverdale Mark 3 sounding 'We're Not The Same'. Let's just say that the occasional jaw-dropping backing vocals sorcery complemented Stiles' outstanding vocal range, such as on their penultimate single 'Why, Why, Why', a track which has received considerable airplay. 'Fast Car' was followed by a stonking Zep medley including 'Good Times Bad Times' plus 'Moby Dick', before Steve Price, on his Mapex drum kit, and bassist James Scott kept the powerful groove going on the "Sliverish" sounding 'Down Little' Mama'. After Jack's retrospective slapped wrist, for his tour announcement faux pas, they closed with one final original 'Total Jeopardy' (not their latest single 'World of Misery' surpisingly), before they finished the set with "their favourite song" - Deep Purple's 'Burn' - the band well and truly nailing this classic with their Hungarian axeman showing off his chops credentials one final time. A great young band, with their debut album set to be released this year, the writing is very much on the wall. Vambo Rules!
Following his move to Los Angeles in 2010, Jared James Nichols quickly gained notoriety by winning the prestigious Gibson Les Paul Tribute Contest as well as Musicians Institute Most Outstanding Player Award. No surprises then as the tall, good looking, long haired guitarist entered the stage with his Epiphone Les Paul ('Old Glory') that has clearly seen some action, backed up by the formidable pairing of baseball-capped bassist Ronnie Elvis James and drummer Dennis Holm, both skilled musicians in their own right, who have also also seen said action. As expected, JJN's beast of a trio, duly delivered more tattoos, hair and pounding Marshall amps in abundance, a fine mix of funky Rock Blues, but with a 70's Power Rock twist.
"How Are You?" Nichols greeted the crowded with outstretched arms before opening with 'Last Chance' - the single off of his last album 'Black Magic' before launching another from that said album 'Don't Be Scared' - which was, delightfully, more reminiscent of 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath'! "Are You Ready To Rock?" Jared enquired. Silly question really as everyone clapped along to 'Honey Forgive Me' with its fleeting Fleetwood Mac snippet before JJN's outstanding guitar gymnastics on 'End Of Time' - Blues Rock at its best - proved once again the theory that a Les Paul = Blues Power. And if we weren't feeling it by now, then JJN's classic 'Baby Can You Feel It', with its Montrose/Ted Nugent love child fret work, inevitably ended in an audience singalong, so much so that Jared, with his trusty guitar in hand, jumped off the stage to join us!
However, a pivotal moment in Nichols career could be his latest single 'Nails In My Coffin'. It's a curveball, but a brilliant curveball that is quite possibly his most profound and most successful song to date. The single premiered on BBC Radio 2 as well as heavy A-List Rotation on Planet Rock and was duly dispatched with aplomb to rapturous applause. Awesome. Jared then thanked Vambo and then poignantly shared how great it was to be headlining rather than getting a ten minute support slot! The pounding Blues Rock of the superb 'Hardwired To Love' made way for some on stage drinking games before Nichols deviated from his aforementioned Living Colour support set. The headbanger 'Blackfoot' saw Jared venture into the audience once more before another explosive opening solo on 'Run' saw that famous JJN Colgate smile as he eased into another awesome solo.
"One more song?" Nichols teased - cue the amazing Hendrix influenced riff of 'The Gun', with the thumping pace of Holm's mesmeric drumming, Jared demanding "London let me hear you say yeah". Of course. to a man (and woman) we all responded "Yeah" before JJN closed out by thanking us all for coming. Nichols returned for an encore on his own playing 'Playin' For Keeps', before he was joined by the exceptional Ronnie on bass - yes Elvis was still in the building! Once again, he nailed his 70's influences to the mast as he signed off a storming set with a cover of Mountain's 'Mississippi Queen', with a snippet of The Pink Panther, The Rolling Stones, Cream's 'Politician' and Dennis' cowbell all thrown in for good measure, resulting in Jared jumping into the audience for one final sortie. Nichols now plays two dates in Germany this week before returning to the USA. This was real Rock 'n' Roll at its best. Just make sure you catch Jared when he is next over as you will not want to miss him.