The Classic Rock Show

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

James Cole began this project eight years ago, while touring the tribute acts “Brit Floyd and Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac. Both acts had a great reception and did very well indeed. After the success of two successful tribute bands. James conceived the idea of a live touring delve into his record collection. Almost like a Rock N Roll Juke Box. Without a fixed set list, where songs performed depended on the feel and enthusiasm of the audience on each night of this 39 date tour of the United Kingdom.

The Band
James Cole. Electric and Acoustic Guitars.
Tim Brown – Drums
Wayne Banks – Bass
Pete Thorn – Electric Guitar
Henry Burnett – Keys
Rudy Cardenas – Lead Vocal
Jesse Smith – Lead Vocal
Jess Harwood – Lead Vocal.

I met the amazing photographer, Raymond Speedie at the box office of the Usher Hall, we picked up our tickets and found our seats. for this Rock N Roll cabaret, Indeed it had been described as a delve into James Cole’s record collection a selection of Rock N Roll greats, renditions and arrangements of songs that have sold billions of records. From soft rock crooners to hard rock megaliths, I didn’t have a clue who sang the originals of the opening numbers or what they were called, It was only by seeing pictures of the artists that created the music I was listening to projected onto the stage screen and even then I had difficulty figuring out who sang the song.. Rainbow, Rush and probably another prog 80’s metal band, I was in the minority though, most of the audience were singing along pleasantly.

I was a fully-fledged New Romantic in the 80’s Metal didnae get a look in. It wasnae until we moved halfway through the first set. That Mark Knofler came up on the screen, Oh good am gonna know this one, aye it was Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits its a nice song, not that I bought it, but I saw it on Top Of The Pops, Things geared up with an honest rendition of Another Brick In The Wall by Floyd, and indeed, yes, it was perfectly performed – I can see how the Brit Floyd impressed. These guys do have a massive supportive fan base, the Usher Hall is a large venue and it was near to sold out with 50-something rockers. Joyce and her husband had come up all the way from Dumfries, they were with friends they had all seen this band many times, Joyce was 81 and she was grooving. Joyce had the moves, especially when Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love began its opening riff.

By the second half of the concert, the PA had been amplified somewhat, I couldnae help thinking it was too loud, maybe even distorting, My ears are still ringing as I am writing this. It was when Bowie’s Space Oddity was performed, I really enjoyed the musical arrangement of the song, specifically the keyboard players Avant Garde touches, I almost thought that the band were going to follow with Aladdin Sane, It would have worked. Then we had Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody played live in its entirety, I am not sure that Queen did the whole song live, am pretty sure the middle vocal harmonies were a taped performance segment, because they were too difficult to do at the time. However the three singers tonight did a sterling Job of bringing Freddie back to life. There was an Eagles song that I had never heard before, am not an Eagles fan, although I do like Hotel California, And the Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” surprised me.

I Know, I Know, I Know! its not my record collection, if It had of been there would have been a lot more Clash, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Soft Cell and The Human League in the mix. There were a few more soft rock songs, the likes of Journey and Toto. The crescendo was a mega mix and yes, they brought the house down. but on the whole, tonight was a retro feel-good cabaret, Performed by very talented professional musicians. Expertly orchestrated and brilliantly presented.

James Cole, the musical director and guitarist, stated that the show was akin to a jukebox. What it boils down to personally I just wouldnae have put a lot of the songs performed tonight on a Juke Box. Brilliant in parts and a fair representation of rock classics, Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell and Lynard Skinard’s Freebird and Status Quo’s “Get On Down” had the balcony bouncing, and yes it was as near perfect as the originals.

This was date 35 of a 39-date tour, a massive production on the road, with material this well-rehearsed, renditions of songs that the baying audience wanted to hear Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” got a standing ovation. Indeed the collective masterful musicianship and brilliant voices collectively took everyone on a trip down memory lane. The band and the audience had a thoroughly good time.

Divine on Words, Raymond Speedie on Photographs

An Interview with Sons of Liberty

Sons of Liberty head out on a co-headline tour with Preacher Stone from USA. The Mumble caught up with two of ‘The Sons’, Fred & Moose.

What are your first musical memories?

Guitarist Moose –
“My Nan played piano and my Mum sang and played violin, so music was there right from the start – I ended up playing trumpet in a Glenn Miller style swing band and singing a bit too, so something definitely rubbed off. Then there were bands like The Sweet or Slade on the radio or TV, and I realise now that they were my first exposure to rock music, despite being a bit over the top with the whole glam image thing.”

Who has been your greatest musical influence over the years?

Guitarist Fred –
“As a band made up of individuals we have a wide range of musical influences right through the decades. I guess what got me interested in guitar music in the first place were the great 70’s rock bands like Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, AC/DC, UFO, Blackfoot and I was always a big Budgie fan.”

So… desert island, solar powered CD player, 3 albums – what are they?

Moose –
“Damn, that’s just too hard – picking just three is almost impossible! I’ve still got 100’s of vinyl singles and albums, and even today with streaming and Spotify etc I’m still adding to a vast CD collection almost every month. So, how about Operation Mindcrime by Queensryche, Diary of a Madman by Ozzy Osbourne and Unleashed In The East by Judas Priest (with the extra tracks from the 7” single that came with it originally). Yeah I know, nothing especially southern…”

Tell us about the Sons of Liberty – who is in the band, where you all from, & what you all about?

Fred –
“The band was formed in 2014 around a shared love of new and old Southern Rock from the classics of Skynyrd, Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet to the current bands like Cadillac Three, Blackberry Smoke, Black Stone Cherry who were starting to gain some traction in the UK at that time. We started writing and recording our own music as a band in the second half of 2016. Original members are Andy Muse (guitars and vocals), Mark Thomas (bass and vocals), Steve Byrne (drums) , myself on guitar and last year we were joined the boy Rob Walker on lead vocals. We are all based in the south west around Bristol and South Wales except Rob who is a Brummie, now living in Dunstable. We’re a pretty straight up honest rock band; that puts everything we have in the tank into our live shows, song writing, recording, merchandise as well as our engagement with everyone who is kind enough to come and see us perform or who buy into the band in any way. We work very hard at everything because we really enjoy the whole Sons experience.”

What is it about the music of the southern states of America that makes you, & the rest of the band, tick as musicians?

Moose –
“The storytelling is just brilliant, with real-world characters and situations that are kinda easy to connect with. Add that to some cool music that has the scope to be vicious and raucous or warm and sentimental, sometimes in the same song, and you’re off and running. The authenticity of the songs from bands like Skynyrd or Blackfoot, or more recently Brothers Osbourne, TC3 etc is really inspiring, and we’ve tried to bring some of that to our material too. Plus we get to kick up a storm live, and wear some daft hats etc too, hahaa!”

It has been over a year now since your highly acclaimed “tricky” second album ‘Aces & Eights’ – is there anything in the pipeline?

Fred –
“Yes! We’ve been busy writing and recording for the as yet unnamed album #3. We were in the studio at the end of 2022 laying down the music and we’ll be heading back in to finish off the album soon. We have returned to Momentum Studios, where we recorded ‘Aces & Eights’, working with the incredibly talented Josiah J Manning again. Josiah does everything in the studio so well, not only production, engineering and mixing, he’s been like a 6th member of the band throughout. Album #3 will be a bit special…that’s all we can say at the moment.”

You’re just about to head out on tour – can you tell us about ‘THE OLD COUNTRY RAMBLE’ tour?

Moose –
“It’s gonna be a hoot! There’s nine dates over ten days, kicking off on the 22nd of March at The Thekla in Bristol, taking in Real Time Live in Chesterfield, Hard Rock Cafe in Glasgow, Bannerman’s in Edinburgh, Trillians in Newcastle, The Musician in Leicester, Nightrain in Bradford and The Victoria in Swindon before wrapping up at Leos Red Lion in Gravesend on the 31st – I think the Preacher Stone guys will be flying home with a hangover the next day! We’ve got a day off in Liverpool too, so it’ll be fun to hit the Cavern and check out a few of the musical tourist stuff too.”

How did the connection with Preacher Stone happen?

Fred –
“We have loved Preacher Stone for years, we buy their music and we even covered a couple of their songs back when we started out. I hooked up with Marty Hill (guitars) and Jim Bolt (bass) on-line about the time we first started recording and we have sent new music back and forth for a while…we always seemed to have a lot in common, our outlook, the passion for the music and a similar work ethic… so we kind of became distant friends and have followed each others exploits. I think Preacher Stone have always wanted to come to the UK and with their new album on the way they got in touch to see if we could make something happen together….which has become ‘The Old County Ramble’.”

You’ll be heading up here to Scotland, where we’re hoping to catch you guys – have you ever played in Scotland before?

Moose –
“Hell Yeah! Scotland has been really kind to us as a band so far – we’ve played WinterStorm at Troon a couple of times and have made three other trips north of the border for headline and support shows too. I guess we get to feel like a real “Southern” band once we get that far north, and we’re really looking forward to reconnecting with fans old and new at Bannerman’s and the Hard Rock Cafe, two great venues!”

What does the rest of 2023 have in store for the band?

Fred –
“As well as finishing and launching the new album we will be producing some singles and videos from that. We have another busy live schedule too with a few early club dates in the diary. We’ll be heading out to tour the new album later this year, before that we will hit the festival season, which will include Maid of Stone Festival in Kent, Firestorm Festival Manchester, Nene Valley Rock Festival and a few still to be announced here in the UK and in France. We also plan to play some club shows in Northern Europe in the autumn. No rest for the wicked!”

SONS OF LIBERTY: UK TOUR (with Preacher Stone)

The Black Angels

QMU, Glasgow
1st March, 2023

I relished the thought of attending Glasgow University’s Queen Margaret Union, or QM as it is so affectionately called. It is a venue of high esteem and has played host to many bands before they became famous. We were there for an evening of live music from the band ‘The Black Angels’, who are a notoriety act of what has come to be termed psychedelic rock. Hailing from Texas they formed way back in 2004 and have released 6 studio albums and they are steeped in folk lore.

But first on was a band called Tamar Aphek a self titled group had a rock line up but their music turned up the volume in waves of something akin to heavy metal. The singer Tamar’s vocals gave the rock its sense of appeal trashing through their workings. She is a herald of underground music in Israel, and as a student formed a few bands with colleagues.

They blasted the stage and lit the room as a group, far out and tightly wound. As the gig came alive the time grew closer to the Angels arrival, the spacious room filled and an excitement rose. Their name is something plucked from a Velvet Underground’s song (on the darker side) ‘The Black Angels Death Song’, but in their lyrics they also allude to an Edvard Munch quote where he said the words prophetically spoken ‘Illness, insanity and death are the black angels that kept watch…’

Their take on the night was to a crowd enthralled and into the psychedelic tunes that the band were very well ready for, from the room opening up for the first tune. You got the feeling of an aura between the band and their audience, and this brand of music is fit for a darkening and overcasting and a bending yet still has an overarching power to greatly entertain.

It’s a brilliant mode that brings rock back and tunes itself to the expansion of a mean kind of take on psychedelic impressions. This gave the band a kind of fearful sense, of a band whose work includes many collaborations live and recorded. And at one of the best venues their fans came together for a good time and a celebration of dark odds.

The band uses the power of music to the extent of resembling opera in its revelations not that the writing itself was so but the epic sense was in action, of cool and collected but ready to be ruckus, out there and dynamite in style.

Their Album ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’ released in 2022 had come after making their way through the underground with such swift proficiency making them very much the real deal. All of which made the act very successful for music fans with a genuine quality.

Their sound and stance goes well beyond and created a satisfaction that charmingly stormed the room, and their levels of the psychedelic genre, they were an enchanted fore runners of new and loud rock, with the kind of vibrations of a conquering of music, scene, fan love and adoration of the power that rock can hold.

Very exciting, a magical venue for an up front, expansive act of soul discovery, embrace and expression. Darker than those more mainstream rock acts who have no real power. Instead holding that power, feeling it in your hand and then through music to specify itself in the power of letting things go and be no matter what, undeniable music of passion.

Daniel Donnelly

Album Review: GOD COMPLEX by Mid Life Krysis

Art by Tamar Donnelly, logo by Mike Daniel

To my great discovery I had the chance to hear a new out there and fresh from experiment album called ‘God Complex’, it has a very simple and artful cover of three cross shapes in a black and white colour, the image bent my head a little and even looked somewhat comical.
This album is the eighth brain child of Steven Vickers who performs as the prolific ‘Mid Life Krysis’ it is a high energy, somewhat of a masterpiece, of learned and condensed musical journeying joining a long held tradition with a short hand of prose.

His act is centred around free and well written rapid forms of vocals. His style is to rouse and his descriptive powers make the discovery of this album a rewarding one. ‘Mid Life Krysis’ 8th album shows a journey of hits and parades of success and gut wrenching failure. He writes and performs as a one man act, though his fusions of a good few styles come together, rapping and singing, beat bopping and cajoling, many elements to form a unique style.

He carefully and with face to face subtly eases us in with many twists of lyrical and musical flow. Offering out ethical triumph from a world made brave from wisdom and as loud as techno (though a deeper kind). We dive into a message that grew in all ways toward thoughtfulness of clarity but in the guise of a madman in your ear.

He has picked a plight of showman to gather his thought and music to make points and in his lyrics we find this close appeal even as he brings it all crashing in. We get a look inside a scene that finds modernism, but comes with honesty. Backed by lavishly dressed ovation’s that his sounds strike out with. It is material in possession of and in a beginning of powerlessness to introduce this fiery, joyfully vivid album.

I met Steven on a boat to Arran about a couple of years ago, we where there a few days and I found myself in a house with maybe 8 or 9 of us there bopping to his ‘Mid Life Krysis’ material. He was warming up for a gig back on the mainland. It was a joy to meet him and his music had great appeal.

‘God Complex’ (released Feb 10) is the coming out of a chrysalis, mixed with superfluous talents, great skill and even a purpose. He lays a path from song to song for us to track the graduating yet easy sending of an epic playlist of good original music.

He places his tones by blasting through noise into well thought out tirade’s of those voracious lyrically speeded up creations, not least his ability to switch you off.

I have poured through his wonderfully large, outlandish and feverishly fresh lyrics, written to ever give a cause to his proceedings. I was happy to energetically expand while emotionally shrinking, in music that offered a style of things. Was this an ability to reach for the subconscious in each song and come out till making sense, with a kind of abruptness!

A sense of the spontaneous, challenge arrived, almost a confrontation that he has come to thrive in. Songs deliberated in this style that have come from genuine experience he lights his fire, creates chaos but still loves what he is doing which is to theme songs as a crazy professor. But he finds sensitivity, charm and vulnerability.

For the posterity of sharing this deliciously powerful, unequivocal recording I will showcase a few lines and leave them without comment from me. The very first line in the very first song called ‘The Satanic Bars’ this is how he starts it off:

The wrath of God gave plenty of fodder,
To homicidal despots unleashing their brand of horror,
On an unsuspecting populace,
The power of the prophets is often monstrous,
Of course it is

Ok, so we’re in the pace now, things are in a flow, straight to the point, the emanating idea starts to form, with questions not yet answered. The piloting title of this new album ‘God Complex’ has of course a number of possible meanings all of which are hinted at during the album. The goal must have been of a story with a big heart that cleverly seeks to disrupt.

His fresh seeking genre has a wonderful quality of psychology that seems to ride in the songs and story; that gives it another emotional appeal for the journey he is trying to navigate.

There is fine art behind this lad from Leith’s expansively musical concoctions, subject of all kinds, and gregarious tides. His hit comes frequently, as he transforms the meaning of his poetry, fusing with the theme in a turn, sowing seeds of the ‘God Complex’ into a metamorphosis from pain and metal into a lovingly creative hope for things yet to come.

For the entire album he is far from home yet never lost, I recall a ‘Krysis’ gig in Glasgow’s Room 2 where he broke a cherry as a hard core definitive act with words I could only just decode, obviously words to pick a fight. His signature has changed for me into the blossoming of any and every kind of life, music booms with electricity, sound approval and dichotomy.

So here’s my second and final quote from Mid Life Krysis new and strong album, I will select it from the 8th track ‘The Religion of we’:

In the singing of a pretty bird sat out upon a fence,
The smell of flowers almost makes me know what Jesus meant,
When he said to love your brother that cannot be wrong,
With God at my side maybe I was perfect all along.

Predominantly a rap show, a one man condensation, where the possible’s are his aims to cram as many words in the least amount of time, manic and centred and happy to share the creative process, as I heard melodies that weren’t really there.

The 12-track album sits very nicely as an incredibly strong and well positioned musical tirade that has a great, complete examination of the modern world, behaviour and what not. Having eight albums alludes to his marked success; that may break with this one. He plays around with everything he can get his hands on, his skills are now fluid. A heartfelt wish to create an unease, with a message of reprieve, his vocal jaunt with the heat of a dragonfly.

Heavy thought, hard light, enjoyable, immersive, poetry and music well in hand. A vocal reference in the ‘God Complex’ is it his? Does it belong to the world? Or is it a question of truth? Joyfully holding up a powerful and thorough musical (like fused dynamite) reflection; rapidly construing success in an all round purpose of creative recording both modern and wise, a multi facetted mask to a remarkable album.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly