Blues Pills – The Marble Factory, Bristol
As we headed to Bristol for the first time this week we had to fight all the way there through the heavy rainfall that lashed down as we drove.
Our mood had been dampened not only by the abysmal weather but the news that main support act Kadavar had to withdraw due to illness. This didn’t stop the band’s extensive merchandise being displayed for sale at the venue along with some rather fine Blues Pills garments and some interesting leatherwork from the other support outfit, Stray Train.
A healthy crowd welcomed the Slovenians Stray Train (7) who had the task of warming the crowd up on a cold night and also filling the void created by Kadavar’s absence. They took up the mantle and delivered on all levels with their warming brand of classic rock getting heads nodding and feet tapping. Perhaps a tad generic musically, the band possesses a real asset in vocalist Luka Lamut whose soaring voice had more than a passing resemblance to Myles Kennedy. Playing a good 35 minutes with tracks such as Plastic Princess and Wonderful off their debut release, the excellently titled Just 'Cause You Got The Monkey Off Your Back Doesn’t Mean The Circus Has Left Town Stray Train were competent and entertaining with the confidence of a band who’ve been on the road for a while.
Blues Pills (8) need little introduction. Since our first viewing at Hard Rock Hell in November 2014, the Swedish based outfit has developed massively. This year’s stunning Lady In Gold has helped and their performance at Steelhouse Festival in July was a total triumph. The improvement is in the tightness of their musical interplay and in the confidence of Elin Larsson, whose Joplinesque moves are now frenzied in comparison to that cold November afternoon in Pwllheli. A commanding figure, she whirls and swirls like a dervish, blond hair cascading over her face as she smacks hell out of her tambourines.
The band opened with the powerful Lady In Gold and showed their topical side with Larsson sarcastically dedicating Little Boy Preacher to the 45th President of the USA. With two albums now in their catalogue, the band now have more room for expression and no-one takes more advantage of that than guitarist Dorian Sorriaux. Splendidly decked out in a red velvet jacket and snazzy shirt, the Frenchman makes playing the guitar look effortless. His performance throughout the evening was great but during Astral Plane, High Class Woman, Ain’t No Change and Devil Man it was astonishing.
Unfortunately the sound was pretty appalling and despite moving several times to both sides of the stage, the overpowering drumming of Andre Kvarnsrom and Zack Anderson’s thumping bass lines muffled Sorriaux’s guitar sound with Larsson having to work really hard to be heard. A beautiful solo encore of I Felt A Change by the frontwoman allowed a brief respite but with a thunderously heavy Rejection the penultimate encore crushing the skull once more, we made our exit. A superb band, let down on this occasion by a disappointing sound mix.