Saturday 19th March 2022
Boston Music Room, Tufnell Park, London
With his long awaited new album, 'The Fighter', set for release on Friday 27th May on Ear Music, highly regarded guitar player, singer and songwriter Simon McBride, was back on Saturday night with an explosive, emotive fret and face melting live show at London's Boston Music Room in Tufnell Park, for his eighth gig in a thirteen date UK and Ireland tour, alongside his band of fellow Irishmen, Dave Marks (bass) and Marty McCloskey (drums).
Hailing from Belfast, the former Young Guitarist of The Year, and now fully-fledged Blues-Rock virtuoso, has toured with Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa and Grammy nominee Derek Trucks. However, the only two previous occasions I have seen Simon play were way back in 2017, with Classic Rock outfit Snakecharmer, after McBride replaced Micky Moody in 2016. Given Thursday was also St. Patrick's Day, the allure of this pucker Blues Rock power trio on a Saturday night in London was too good to resist.
Making the short trip to the venue from Tufnell Park underground, we realised that the long queue in the distance was in fact for The Dome not for Simon's gig at The Boston Music Room, and despite a slightly disappointing turn out on the night, those present were indeed in for a treat. The evening kicked off with the appropriately punchy opener from the new album, the heavy bass and drum rocker, 'Don't Dare', with McBride of course on lead vocals and guitar, delivering the first of his own very distinctive songs. There was no time for formalities as they then tore into the closing track of 'The Fighter', a classy cover of Free's 'The Stealer', before returning back to two self-penned stormers from the new album, 'King Of The Hill' and 'Just Takes Time', with the latter's lyrics an example of the autobiographical content of the whole album, such as stories of a life on the road, of dreams, opportunities and struggles.
Thankfully, the evening was not all serious, with some great banter between Simon and the "fabulous" Def Leppard t-shirt wearing Dave, plus the amusing silence amongst the crowd when McBride asked whether there were any Bryan Adams fans in the audience. Cue the classic riff of Adams' 'Kids Wanna Rock' (which was also on McBride's 2020 EP, 'Trouble'), followed by 'Heartbreaker', no, not a Zeppelin cover, but an equally riffin' classic from Simon's 2012 'Crossing The Line' long player. "From Bryan to Ryan Adams" McBride quipped, as the trio continued to mix it up with 'Gimme Something Good' (another that Simon covered on 2019's '100 Days'), before they launched into the kickass killer title track and single from the new album.
One of the many highlights of the night for mine, was the catchy chorus of the delightful '100 Days', where we were also treated to a drum solo from the "super awesome" Marty McCloskey, although the high-paced energy resumed with the hook-laden riffs of their most recent single, 'High Stakes'. The set list then stepped back to 2019 with 'I Gotta Move' (taken from '100 Days') and another apt killer of a track, 'Dead Man Walking' ('Since Then'). McBride then proceeded to throw a curveball into the crowd by asking for any requests. "Hendrix, Gary Moore ...?". The former, as expected got the nod, as we were treated to an exquisite take of Jimi's 'Little Wing'. Perhaps his fellow son of Belfast will hopefully get the vote next time?
Those dreaded words of "we've got a couple more songs", understandably was greeted with a few jokey jeers, although to get the Boston faithful back on his side, Simon promised audience participation on the penultimate tune of the night, 'Don't Be A Fool', and with a teasing snippet of Purple's 'Smoke On The Water' thrown in for good measure, we duly obliged, singing along to this shuffling track, taken from 2012's 'Crossing The Line'. The anthemic 2019 'Show Me How To Love', also on 'The Fighter', wrapped things up, before more high jinks from the trio as their encore kicked off with a snippet of Sabbath's 'Iron Man', before embarking on a stunning finale of Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys, 'Power Of Soul', doing this classic more than justice. Amazing.
Cue a well-deserved ovation from those who were lucky enough to be there to witness three outstanding musicians at the top of their game. Such a shame there were not more present. Anyway, with just four tour gigs to go, do not miss them when they play Leicester's Musician tonight (21st March), Blackpool's The Waterloo this Wednesday (23rd), Stoke's Eleven this Thursday (24th) or Drogheda's McHughs this Saturday (26th).