There’s been a lot of talk in the press lately about the state of rock and roll but to say it’s dead? Really? Nah … It’s fine, just check out Rival Sons.

Rival Sons, a quartet out of California, brought their bluesy, classic rock inspired, rock and roll show to the TLA in Philadelphia Sunday night. They are currently touring in support of their critically acclaimed album, Great Western Valkyrie, which was released in June of this year. Originally formed in 2009, this band slowly but surely have been garnering fans while opening for AC/DC, Judas Priest, Kiss, Kid Rock, and Alice Cooper. Their European fan base is well ahead of the game, embracing them way before the U.S. caught on. If the rave reviews they are getting on this U.S. tour are any indication, their dream of making it in America may actually become a reality.

Rival Sons appeals to fans of 60s-70s classic rock, soul, and blues. The setlist was perfect, as they played numerous songs from their latest release, and just enough fan favorites from the past, to make this a most memorable night.

They opened up the show with “Electric Man” from their current album. Throughout this song, vocalist Jay Buchanan exclaims repeatedly “I’m electric” and by the end of the show made those present believers due to his charisma. Oddly, he is reminiscent me of the late great Michael Hutchence of INXS. There is little similarity between their music; it is about the way he moves and glides on stage, and the raw passion in which he sings. “Good Things,” another song from their latest release, sounded like it was plucked right from a 60’s movie soundtrack. The addition of keyboard player Todd Ogren-Brooks on this tour made this song standout.

As hard as this band can rock, their slower stuff was equally impressive. There were many highlights in the show, but the most emotional moment had to be the beautiful and haunting song called “Jordan.” It’s a song about loss and death and Jay Buchanan sang it with such conviction, the audience was visibly moved.

Ultimately, this was a no frills rock and roll show … Just good old fashioned rock and roll, the way it should be played.

The guitar work by guitarist Scott Holiday on songs such as the 10-minute jam, “Manifest Destiny Pt. 1” was truly impressive, as was his blistering playing on such songs as, “Tell Me Something” (from their debut album) and “Secret.” The audience really tested out their vocal chops on the chorus of, “Burn Down Los Angeles,” which was the loudest sing along of the night.

Bassist David Beste, who joined Rival Sons in 2013, is also a great addition to the band. The chemistry between the band members was obvious and they sounded more like a well seasoned band of 20 years.

Rival Sons’ musical influences from the 70’s were heard throughout the night as well, most notably on the song “Open My Eyes.”  The Zeppelin influence was apparent on the opening drumming by Mike Miley and there was a rock riff played by guitarist Holiday during the song which was very reminiscent of Jimmy Page.

Rival Sons ended their set with the lyrically beautiful “Face Of Light,” which Buchanan dedicated to his son at home. One of the highlights of the encore was fan favorite “Pressure and Time,” in which drummer Mike Miley treated the audience to a fantastic solo. We should call him “Magic Mike” because some of the stick work he did with his drum kit during the night was awe inspiring. I think the ghost’s from the classic rock era, like Keith Moon and John Bonham, would be impressed.

Ultimately, this was a no frills rock and roll show. There were no big screens, fancy lighting, or plumes of smoke to distract the audience. Just good old fashioned rock and roll, the way it should be played.

There seems to be a big blues rock revival of late that’s becoming popular, which is a good thing. EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Alt Pop and rap seem to be all over the airwaves … but it’s not rock and roll.

Rival Sons puts the blues, psychedelic, classic rock, and hard rock in a blender, and comes out with a sound inherently unique and all their own. It’s music for the soul.  Here’s hoping America finally catches on to this band. I feel like we’ve been waiting for them …. and to be honest rock and roll needs them.

Recent musical appearance by Rival Sons on The Late Show with David Letterman:

Rival Sons at TLA in Philadelphia, PA:

Rival Sons
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