Kris Barras has to be one of the hardest working artists in the music business right now.

And when the former MMA fighter isn’t touring, writing or recording with his band, he is off trotting the globe with Billy Gibbons and company as frontman in the Supersonic Blues Machine. There is just no slowing down for Kris Barras.

Only eighteen months ago Kris was performing an intimate show at Hartlepool Supporters Club, a mere stone’s throw tonight’s theatre, the ARC in Stockton. This being a venue several times the size of that of his last visit to Teesside and the room is packed to the proverbial rafters. To say that Barras’ rise has been meteoric is an understatement.

And it’s not just the venues that have been getting bigger, but also the band with the addition of a pair of backing vocalists, and also the show production with lighting and smoke canisters adding that extra touch to tonight’s rock show.

Barras has a real knack for writing anthemic singles and has subsequently been championed by the likes of Planet Rock Radio since the release of his second album. And the artist’s latest offering continues in the same vein delivering a whole string of readymade, crowd-pleasers.

From the opening notes of the opening number Ignite, the crowd are locked in. Whilst the foot-stomping sounds of Rock And Roll Running Through My Veins is a sentiment that all in attendance can relate to.

Just like Ignite, and previous hits such as Propane and Lovers or Losers – What A Way To Go has all the hallmarks of a classic in the making. Whilst a beautiful airing of Rain is one of the many highlights of the show. This being a song that garners a mass singalong from all in attendance during the latter stages of the number.

A run of tracks from Light It Up keeps things interesting mid-set. Even though the album is still relatively new, these tracks already sit comfortably in the set. This includes the likes of the hard-rocking What You Get, along with a pair of songs that embody the man of the hour’s fighting past by way of the incredibly catchy Vegas Son and the feisty Broken Teeth.

In the final stages of the show, a spellbinding and emotive rendition of Watching Over Me slows things down momentarily before Kris ups the tempo with one of his heaviest tracks to date Not Fading. Tonight’s set truly showcases Barras’ vast musical pallet.

The main set concludes with hit single Hail Mary, but the band aren’t done quite yet. The night is brought to a close by way of Kris and the band putting their stamp on Freddie King’s timeless blues standard Going Down. During the latter of which each member of the group takes their moment in the spotlight.

With an almost seamless transition between his critically acclaimed sophomore album the Divine and Dirty and his latest record Light It Up, the British blues-rock artist continues to gain momentum at every turn in his career.

Elles Bailey was the perfect artist to kick things off earlier in the evening. Not wanting to be pigeonholed into one particular musical style or genre, Elles walks the fine line between soulful blues, country and rock.

Elles latest album Road I Call Home features some of her best work to date. And tonight that Road tonight leads to a rare appearance in the North East for the Bristol-based singer/songwriter.

Bailey kicks off her set with the hard-rocking Wild Wild West, before switching things up with the spellbinding piano/ballad What’s The Matter With You.

Elles is a gifted songwriter with a real talent for storytelling. Tracks like Bailey’s country rocker “Medicine Man” are a testament to this. Whilst Bailey’s take on Levon Helm’s When I Go Away is truly breathtaking. The latter of which is being released as a single.

Bailey closes out her set with the title track of her latest record – Road I Call Home. Elles raises the bar very high early in the evening, and if you missed her this time around she will be back in the North East on March 18th at Sage Gateshead.


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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