Blues Pills - LIVE: The Classic Grand, Glasgow 2016

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Lady In Gold Tour
November 2 (20:35 - 21:55)
Capacity 550

Blues Pills came to Glasgow as part of a triple bill of bands with ties to Germany, USA, Sweden, Slovenia, and France, making this a truly international evening of music. However because of the venue also running a nightclub afterwards, the first band came on at 6pm, and for those travelling from out of Glasgow that meant many people missed Slovenian openers Stray Train.

Those who did catch them, hailing from the city of Ljubljana, seemed impressed with their twin guitar sound. It is a shame that a band travelling so far go on so early and miss out on maybe picking up even more fans due to stage time. The main support (or as Blues Pills singer Elin Larsson called them "co-headliners") Kadavar played a solid set, with both guitarist and vocalist Lupus Lindemann and drummer (doing the best Animal impression in a long time with arms and head flailing everywhere) Tiger (unlikely his real name) putting on a show to watch. They did mention the crowd seemed not as crazy as expected, but maybe it was again because of how early it still was in the evening. As the set progressed they seemed to win over quite a good number of the audience. They played some very heavy grooves with lots of quick changes of pace making some of it difficult to get a handle on, but the shorter tracks like Pale Blue Eyes and The Old Man, along with a storming version of The Beatles Helter Skelter made a good impression.

The last time Blues Pills played Glasgow it was a smaller venue of around 300 people, so this was a step up for them, and it seemed close to sold out which is certainly a good sign. With the latest album, Lady In Gold, being more commercial sounding with an emphasis on soul, the live experience was a bit of a surprise, as many of the tracks come out much heavier. Some do therefore sound better in the more stripped back, '60s style mix on the CD, as it better allows all the subtleties and nuances to be heard than the live environment seems to.

Vocalist Elin is a dervish onstage, even more than last time. The most impressive thing is that in spite of all the dancing, jumping and headbanging she doesn't often miss a lyric or hit a bum note. Without doubt she is the main focal point of the band as the rest are fairly static and serious looking for most of the night, whereas she not only moves around but has a constant huge grin on her face looking absolutely delighted to be on the stage. Guitarist Dorian Sorriaux has a very laid-back manner to him, and a strange style of throwing out his picking hand during solos like he is gifting them to us. That might not be the reason, but that is how it looks. His solos are nicely played, not particularly long, late '60s or '70s in style, and very tasteful. He has a look of someone who could have been in a '70s period Jethro Tull (which is not a criticism) line-up with his beard and frilly shirt, so has in his own way a stage presence and is oddly captivating at times.

The start of the set is solid enough with the same one-two of the new album, with Little Boy Preacher being even better live than on record. Little Sun is stunning, a track which has so much beauty and allows the whole band to come through the mix as well. Vocally this is wonderfully emotional and pulls at the heartstrings. There is not a lot of stage "banter" as there is not much said between songs, apart from when Elin took time out to mention that she had heard the venue used to be a porn cinema and asked if any of the audience were regular attendees - nicely used as a welcome to the track High Class Woman.

EP hit Devil Man had the usual solo opening allowing her to show her power and range before the band come stomping in and the crowd responding in kind. The band then left the stage allowing Elin to sing I Felt A Change alone whilst playing the organ. It was pretty well placed in the set as it is so different to the rest of their material. The band re-joined her for a two-song encore consisting of Rejection and Gone So Long which are two of the best tracks on the new album. Both are more '60s and trippy and are the tracks which give more room to breathe. It was a very good decision to finish with these as they went out on a high.

“ Elin is a dervish onstage ”

Setlist: Lady In Gold / Little Boy Preacher / Bad Talkers / Won't Go Back / Black Smoke / Bliss / Elements And Things / You Gotta Try / High Class Woman / Ain't No Change / Devil Man / I Felt A Change // Rejection / Gone So Long

Written by Tom Cornell
More: 2016, Gigs,

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