Rival Sons kick off their new world tour in Newcastle in front of a packed out crowd at the Northumbria Institute.

The Californian based classic rockers released their eagerly anticipated latest album Feral Roots last week via their new major label imprint Low Country Sound/Atlantic Records. For Rival Sons latest offering, they returned to the studio with Grammy Award-winning producer and longtime collaborator Dave Cobb at the prestigious Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL.

Opening act The Sheepdogs impress early in the night, with their distinctive brand of retro southern rock. Following their two previous visits to the region, the group has amassed quite a following in the Newcastle area. The band’s sound is deeply rooted in the golden age of rock n’ roll partly due to their mellow laid back groove along with their use of Allman-esque twin part guitar harmonies especially on tracks such as “How Late How Long”, “Right On” and “Nobody”. The Canadian five-piece’s forty five minute spot certainly wins the group a whole raft of new fans in the process.

This evening Rival Sons make a welcome return to Tyneside for their first show in Newcastle since 2014. This being something which frontman Jay Buchanan seems happy about as he declares his admiration towards local legends The Animals.

Having kept their new material tightly under wraps, the beauty of tonight’s show is that the band are giving worldwide live premieres to many of the tracks from the Feral Roots album. Tonight Rival Sons and the Geordie faithful get to share this first-time experience together.

Whereas most bands would gently introduce their new material into their live set, Rival Sons aren’t most bands. Tonight the group perform Feral Roots in its entirety, with all 11 songs from the record featuring in the set. With the band’s new record being less than a week old, it may well have been a bold move for Rival Sons to include such a high concentration of new songs in the set, but it certainly pays off.

The band kicks off the proceedings with the monolithic first single from the record “Do Your Worst”, which is followed in quick succession by three further tracks from Feral Roots by way of “Sugar on the Bone”, “Back In The Woods” and “Look Away”. The Sons fans seem to be more than familiar with the new record already, and simply soak it all in. 

Despite the onus on the band’s new material, there is still room for a plethora of old favourites such as “Pressure and Time”, “Open My Eyes” and “Torture”. Tracks from the Feral Roots record seem to integrate into the setlist with ease alongside many of the band’s more familiar titles. This is particularly the case with both the band’s beautiful rendition of “Jordan” and the title track itself, which each, in turn, sit perfectly side by side one another in the setlist.

Rival Sons really spread out and jam during an epic rendition of “Hollow Bones Part 2”, but nothing could quite prepare the crowd for the group’s majestic, gospel-tinged debut of “Shooting Stars”. This being not exactly the easiest track to perform live without the aid of a choir (as featured on the record), but the band make it work with their simply astonishing vocal harmonies. Buchanan also performs the song partly on acoustic guitar; tonight being the first time the frontman has played the guitar during a Rival Sons live show. 

With no encore or false ending, Rival Sons play straight through their seventeen song setlist. The band brings proceedings to a close with fuzz fuelled favourite “Electric Man” and their hard-hitting anthem “Keep On Swinging”, which in turn leaves the crowd wanting more.

This evening, Rival Sons prove that with Feral Roots they are at the peak of their musical powers as they deliver a spellbinding set that has the crowd transfixed from the off.  The group’s exquisite live performance raises the bar extremely high so early in the year. Rival Sons are simply a class act and will undoubtedly be a difficult band to follow in 2019.

Rival Sons
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Event Date: 31-Jan-2019

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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