On a chilly Sunday evening, the small venue of the 013 in Tilburg is slowly filling up with Hard Rock lovers looking for a nice evening of musicianship and fun.
Opening act of the evening is Stray Train, a five-man band from Slovenia, who warm up the audience with their Hard Rock’n’Roll. Neatly ordered by beard length, this band could easily win a best-dressed contest, and their great enthusiasm and stage presence only adds to the appeal. The vocals are clean and relatively high, reminiscent of Miles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. The two guitarists alternate in lead and rhythm work, both deliver on the sludgy solos and at times surprisingly intricate riffs. The bass seems straight at first, but especially during slower sections shows a nice funky attitude. All in all a very fun band with great energy.
Continuing the high-energy trend isthe Psychedelic Stoner Rock band Kadavar. With somewhat minimalistic lighting that perfectly complements their raw sound, the German gents set many a head banging. The bass is funky and heavily attacked, the drums combine skill and power in a whirlwind of hair, and the guitar sound is sludgy and satisfying. The smooth vocals blend into the music very well, taking on an almost instrumental function. While lacking in audience interaction, the band manages to perform with an infectious energy, and include a neat cover of The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’. It is amazing how these three long-haired and bearded gents manage to create such a wall of sound.
In stark contrast to Kadavar, Blues Pills has five musicians on stage and still doesn’t come anywhere near to that fullness in sound. Opening with ‘Lady in Gold’, a song that lacks power compared to their older work, the first impression is slightly bland. However, the show does become stronger as it progresses, riffs become groovier, drums fills are varied and interesting, and especially the older songs are very well received, the highlight being a great rendition of ‘High Class Woman’. It seems Blues Pills is going through an audience change along with their shift in music, with a large young alternative demographic enjoying the show, and sadly a considerable amount of previous fans leaving disappointed. Leading Lady Elin Larsson was vocally on point and performed with great energy and enthusiasm, but the rest of the band was sorely lacking in stage presence. Whether this was due to the concert being the last in the tour or not, a more engaging performance from the band would add a lot of character to the show.
WORDS BY LORRAINE LYSEN