Virgil & The Accelerators + Loose Moorings
Friday 1st May 2015
The Red Lion, Gravesend
There was an icy wind blowing up the Thames Estuary on Friday night but once Virgil & The Accelerators breezed into town no one seemed to notice or care. VATA were back in old Blighty after a brief trip to Europe and they were determined to start the UK leg with a bang at a venue they had never previously played at.
First up were Loose Moorings who had earned the right to the support slot after an outstanding set in support to Blacktop Deluxe at the Fiddlers Elbow in Chalk Farm on Valentine’s night. LM are a very understated band and front man Roy Hudson admitted to those gathered that he "don't talk much". He doesn't have to as he commands the stage without needing any histrionics and the audience are soon with him and the band. Leading off with the excellent ‘Think I'd Be Blue’ from their debut album Loose Moorings I, the guys however soon launch into tracks from their second album - you got it - Loose Moorings II (told you they were understated). Indeed the set includes 7 tracks from what I consider to be one of the albums of the year to date. The new release is so strong that the last four tracks of the set are all from it: ‘Control’, ‘Falling Star’ and in my eyes two that are already classics in ‘Pushin My Patience’ and ‘Magpie’. An appreciative audience begged for more and venue owner Terry Lee promises a quick return this year - well deserved.
On to the main course and not only was this the first gig of their UK Tour but it was also the first outing for Vigil's new Elvis haircut and Gabriel's new drum kit. I must admit it was an impressive sight as it stood out on stage looking like one of those heavenly visions. If they sounded as good as they looked we were in for a treat. We needn't have worried especially as the sound was being looked after by sound man extraordinaire Vic Wintergreen!! VATA were in no mood to hang around as they launched straight into ‘Take Me Higher’ - the tone was set and the pace never slackened as they powered their way through the heavyweight tracks off their Radium and Army of Three albums. There appear to be many influences that the band draw on and Black Sabbath overtones come through on the excellent ‘All Night Long’. Also for me there were many occasions when Joe Bonamassa influences shone out in Virgil's guitar style especially during the intro to ‘Working Man’ - can't be a bad thing. Add to that a pinch of Bad Company in ‘88’ and you have something for everyone. They finished off with the amazing ‘Silver Giver’ as an encore - the Red Lion had been rocked to its well-established rafters.
The guys are as tight as a you know what and Virgil has you hanging on to every note he plays - I understand the band are leaning away from the Blues tag, I personally think that is a shame as for me there is a place for that genre in their set. It was their first venture to this iconic venue - I don't think it will be their last.