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Friday, 8 June 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Blind River (Live Review By Paul H)

Blind River/Nitroville – The Patriot, Crumlin

A rare journey North of the Wall (Well, Newbridge) saw us head to the Patriot Rock Club in Crumlin. The headline act was The Dead Daisies bassist Marco Mendoza touring his solo album Viva La Rock, but for us it was all about the opening act, Blind River, as to be honest, if Mendoza was playing in my garden I’d draw the curtains.

Having not been to The Patriot before, I was highly impressed. The focus of the venue is the home of The Patriot MC, and that is evident from the amount of biker paraphernalia lovingly placed around the walls of the venue. A warm welcome greeted us, from the doorman, through to the bar staff, landlady and every punter that we spoke to. If there is one thing that the Gwent Valleys do well, it’s to make you feel part of the family. The venue itself was spotless, with the toilets stunning in comparison with the Capital City’s premier rock club. In fact, there is a lot that Fuel could learn from this venue, both in terms of layout and use of space. Of course, they are different in purpose and use but it is well worth taking a trip to check the venue out.

So, enough about the trimmings, what about the music. After all, that’s the reason for our trip. Let’s cut straight to the chase. Blind River (10) are a stunning live band. Having independently released their cracking debut album only the week before, this band, who were superb at both Bloodstock 2017 and Hard Rock Hell later the same year, were on a high and the opportunity to have 40 minutes to showcase the new CD was brilliant. Blind River are no slouches in the industry of course, with the band having been around in amongst other, The Earls Of Mars, Pig Iron and Godsized. They possess a swagger and strut about them which is utterly irresistible. Frontman Harry Armstrong, a tremendously nice guy by the way, possesses on of the most impressive voices in rock music today, and he demonstrated it to great effect throughout the set.

Flanked by Chris Charles and Dan Edwards on guitar, and bassist Will Hughes (clad only in his denim shorts – thankfully longer than the Lemmy Daisy Duke style!), Armstrong led the band through most tracks on the album, his humour hitting just the right spot, whilst his gritty, soulful and powerful vocals were immense. Charles and Edwards were infectious, their grinning faces and constant movement a joy to watch as they traded licks and riffs with abandon. At the rear of the stage, man mountain Andrew Esson really does leather the drumkit, but kept it tight with Hughes to allow the band to motor forward. It really was joy to watch a band, who were clearly having a great time, elicit such a strong reaction from the packed room. By the time we got to the fabulous Can’t Sleep Sober, the room was hot, sweaty and cheering for more. If you only do two more things this year, check out their debut album and do your best to catch them in the live arena. You won’t regret it.

Following such a strong opening act was going to be difficult but London based Nitroville (7) gave it a good go. Having lent their backline to Blind River earns them an extra point, and in Tola Lamont they possess a lady who has a fantastic voice. The band kicked off their set with gusto, Lamont holding the attention with her headwear and vocal pitch which hit all the right notes. However, the band were a little static in comparison to Blind River and it showed as there were more punters outside the venue than watching the band. Their blend of hard rock was perfectly suited although they sound better on record. There is much potential in this band, who are shortly to release their third album, and I would see them again without hesitation. However, on the night, they were unable to reach the heights of what preceded them.

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