Mike Ross and Matt Pearce & The Mutiny

Tuesday 9th November 2021

The Grace (upstairs at London's the Garage in Islington)

My first visit to The Grace was two years ago, so it was good to return and watch the same band, Matt Pearce & The Mutiny, play their first central London gig since Covid began. What’s more this had the added attraction of featuring the Mike Ross Band as a double-headliner, again a group I was keen to see live having reviewed the excellent 'The Clovis Limit Pt.2' virtual gig/album launch during the restrictions of late last year.

It is particularly heartening to see Mike Ross on stage, considering the difficulty of launching an album in the middle of an imposed cessation in Live Music, considering the hitches and delays that marred an effortful live performance online. But realistically there is no better way to experience a master technician/musician at work than in the flesh. His set compromised of twelve songs with a fair few coming from said release 'The Clovis Limit Pt.2'. The track that has grown on me the most is 'Tell Jerry', a tribute to the Country singer Jerry Reed, who most folk would remember from the Smokey and the Bandit films. The instrumental makes for a breezy guitar workout which is heavy on bass, and chugs along until it hits home with piercing solo work.

A particular gift is the sublime slide-playing on 'Leviathan', which leaves most of the crowd in a trance-like state with one member of the audience offering to buy his guitar - Mike informs them they can talk after the show, which is then followed by another offer from someone else to buy his effects pedals, which Mike then informs are more expensive than the guitar. The piece demonstrates perfectly the ability to meld his guitar work with the pedals but not over blow the overall effect.

If angry, snarling Southern Rock is your thing, then Mike Ross is your man and it was a pleasant surprise to see amongst the admirers in the crowd, Dave "Bucket” Colwell, ace-axeman, formerly of Bad Company and now Humble Pie, who was enthusiastically watching on.

Maybe it was just my perception, but this powerful set seemed to have an effect on Matt Pearce, who seemed to ditch his trademark funky sound and go for the jugular with some Heavy Rock gestures with the Gospel powerhouse Daliah Sherrington, this time going full tilt for it, in the line-up once again. The usual, and what are now Planet Rock classics, 'Gotta Get Home' and 'Set Me Free' are included here, but sure enough you cannot take the funk out of the man and the Prince cover of 'Strange Relationship' allows for the familiar Bootsy Collins type basslines to emerge.

To do the gig justice, Mike Ross joins to add some vocals for the encore, and we are treated to a real send off with Daliah Sherrington belting out her rich Gospel overtones. From what I can gather, it seems that the two headliners intend to work together closely next year, for what makes for an exciting prospect, if this gig is anything to go by. Roll on 2022!

Ivan De Mello