Robert Jon And The Wreck + Laura Evans

Sunday 15th May 2022

The Garage, Highbury Corner, London

A ray of Welsh sunshine opened the Sunday night at The Garage. Up and coming Welsh singer/songwriter Laura Evans opened the proceedings showcasing her latest EP ('Running Back To You') along with some choice tracks from her upcoming album release.

It wasn’t until Laura reached her fourth song, 'Call Me A Fool', where she showed off her Country roots, that she really started to shine and got the audience firmly on her side. This was followed by the song 'Gone', which as she put it: “A bit like a Netflix series…” but was a ‘tour de force’ with a powerful vocal backing up the lone guitar, supporting her. 'State Of Mind', the title track of her upcoming album followed and showed off her maturing songwriting! Bringing the set to a close, 'I’m Alright', off the new album seemed like the perfect way to close her set, leaving the audience nicely warmed up for the main attraction.

I first saw Robert Jon And The Wreck at the now defunct “Big Red” up in Holloway as they played their debut UK gig and was suitably impressed! This California based band served up their own ‘home grown’ take on a mix of Rock, with flavours of Country, rounding out their own sound and delivered with panache!

So it was definitely time to revisit this band! Two albums later and a lockdown or two in-between, I was really looking forward to catching up with this band again.

Kicking off with the opening track from their new album ‘Wreckage Vol. 2’; 'She’s A Fighter', this tune set the tone for the evening: Way more Rock than anything else and that was just what everybody wanted. By the end of the first chorus, Robert Jon had the audience eating out of his hand and by the time Henry James had pulled off his first guitar solo, they had the crowd right where they wanted them!

Continuing on with 'Do You Remember' from the ‘Last Light On The Highway’ album, the band could do no wrong from this point on. A quick dive back to 2016 with 'Hey, Hey, Mama' before kicking into one of the stand-out tracks from the first lockdown album, ’Last Light…’: 'Oh Miss Carolina'. With the Country music element slightly more to the fore than on some of their tracks, this song still packs a powerful punch and with more tasteful guitar workouts from Henry James, this song still got one of the loudest applauses of the night.

'Tired Of Drinking Alone' was followed by 'Everyday' from the 'Shine A Light…’ album and despite it being a piano driven song, Henry James still managed to make it about him with another wonderful solo to close the number. 'The Death Of Me' followed and brought the tempo down and the Country back up again. This was another chance for Robert Jon to shine on another powerful lead vocal performance, before taking a back seat to a really tasteful guitar break.

Returning to the latest album offering, and 'Waiting For Your Man' offered up another treat followed up by yet another offering from current ‘Wreckage Vol. 2’: the rocker 'On The Run'. Keeping in that same vein, it was time for the set-closer off the ‘Good Life Pie’ album, another Southern Drinking song: Rollin’.

It goes without saying that the band finished on a high! But the evening wouldn’t have been complete without another trip back to their 2015 album ‘Glory Bound’ and the excellent “Cold Night’ with another epic encore with a closing solo from non-other than guitar maestro Henry James.

If the queues for merchandising are anything to go by, then the band definitely had a great night. It might have been a damp Sunday night in Islington, but I don’t think that anyone leaving the venue, even noticed.

Once again, Robert Jon And The Wreck proved that they are a band that punches way above their weight. Catch them wherever you can. You will not be disappointed!

Tim Russell