Review: DeWolff/Silveroller – Hug & Pint, Glasgow

Pop quiz, hot shot. You are standing at the urinal in the tiniest of toilets at a venue, taking care of business, and the headliner’s frontman comes in, stands at the next urinal over, and answers the call of nature. What do you do, hot shot? You know who it is, he knows that you know, and you know that he knows that you know – so what do you do? Do you ignore the situation and stare straight ahead, or do you address the issue? Selfies and high-fives are out because it’s, well, it’s the toilet after all. It’s decision time hot shot, and before it turns into a scene straight out of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a nod of recognition is offered, along with the lines of “How about that rain, eh?” and thankfully DeWolff’s Pablo van de Poel can laugh at the situation before finishing his business and heading out to join the rapidly filling up venue. You? You make the selfless decision to refrain from any more libations just in case the situation reoccurs.

Making it a family affair, and two-thirds of a reprise of the same tour that blitzed through UK venues last October (along with headliner Jared James Nichols), Dutch rockers DeWolff have retained the services of the Silveroller as tour-mates. Anyone who caught the gigs last year (all images featured within this review were taken in October at The Cathouse) would not have failed to pick up on the camaraderie between DeWolff and Silveroller so it makes perfect sense that the mutual admiration continued into this run of dates – DeWolff’s first-ever UK headline tour.

With the recently released debut EP ‘At Dawn’ tucked under their arms, Silveroller (Jonnie Hodson – vocals, Aaron Keylock – guitar, Joe Major – drums, Ross Munro – organ, Jake James Cornes -bass) have a confident strut about them. They know they are onto something with their Bad Company-meets-The Faces 70’s-fuelled brand of rock ‘n’ roll, and anyone with a Temperance Movement-sized gap in their life will find solace in the music that Silveroller are creating. Like most great guitar-led bands, the focus is squarely on the relationship between the lead vocalist and lead guitarist. The guitarist in this case is the much-lauded Aaron Keylock – who seems to have been around for an age – and the relationship he has formed with Jonnie Hodson is shaping up to be something special.

Opening with the groovy organ-filled barnstormer ‘Black Crow’, the young five-piece makes it look easy. Hodson’s voice is ideally suited to a live setting and with that rarity of a perfect sound in a small club, his warm vocals are soon filling the room. ‘Ways of Saying’ is an early highlight; the soft intro hints at ballad-like territory but it soon explodes to life in the same way that Lord Coverdale made his name with the bluesier incarnations of Whitesnake; while ‘Other Side’ has Keylock breaking out some nifty slide guitar on a track that is easy to imagine Cameron Crowe licensing for the long-hoped-for sequel to his ‘Almost Famous’ movie. Not content to leave the limelight to the front two, Ross Munro is having a blast back in his ancestral lands, and at times he’s upright out of his seat battering those keys in the same manner that Jon Lord or Keith Emerson used to. The band dynamic agrees with Keylock and he is content taking a step back and letting the others flourish, but when he does step up and unleash those tones that first brought him attention – prepare to be dazzled.

Coming as the third (and final) gig in a short mini-tour of Scotland, it’s great to see the venue so busy – so much so that there is a hastily prepared homemade sign on the door leading to the basement venue instructing punters to move as far in as they can go because it’s going to be tight and toasty. With gigs in Aberdeen, and Edinburgh already ticked off the schedule, it’s Glasgow’s turn, and judging by the familiar faces in the front few rows, there are many here tonight who have hit all three gigs. When brothers Pablo (guitar/vocals) and Luka van de Poel (drums/vocals) along with Robin Piso (Hammond/Wurlitzer) take to the stage, hands are shaken with those at the front, nods of recognition are aplenty as if to say “You are here, again?!” and the general feeling is of one big community where there are no barriers between performers and audience.

Pablo van de Poel is a genial host and when he opens with “Hello, Glasgow. We’re DeWolff and we came all the way from the cold, cold Netherlands to ask you one tiny, teeny, weeny question: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME ROCK ‘N’ ROLL…I SAID ARE YOU READY FOR THE NIGHT TRAIN” – it is almost like a preacher addressing his congregation. His brother Luka counts the band in for the rollicking intro to ‘Night Train’ taken from the latest studio album, ‘Love, Death & In Between’, and once the band lock into their groove – sporadic scenes of dancing break out. There is a lot of love in the room tonight and any doubts about Glasgow being one Scottish gig too many quickly disappear with the swirling tones of Piso’s lush organ tones. Full marks to Pablo for doing his research on Glasgow and mentioning that the city is known as “…the stabbing capital…but also the friendliest city in the world” before adding “I was wondering how that works?”. 

Those scenes of dancing continue on ‘Heart Stopping Kinda Show’ which has to be one of the most – if not THE most – infectious, good-feeling tracks released this decade. With each of the band members at times seemingly performing multiple roles, there are moments when you wonder how just 3 players could make that vast, expansive sound coming from the stage. Having Robin Piso on hand is a major factor in this, likewise, it’s a great help having a drummer who packs an almighty punch and can sing. When they all sync as one, those harmonies are utterly delicious and leave many in attendance checking out cheap flights to The Netherlands where DeWolff often swell their ranks with backing vocalists, a brass section, and even more bandmembers.

Unlike so many bands who stretch their songs out to some length, DeWolff are anything but self-indulgent. The unmistakeable tones of “I feel the snake-bit power/Of the witching hour…” signals the beginning of ‘Will o’ the Wisp’ – one of the highlights of ‘Love, Death & In Between’, and what was a 3-minute slow-burner on the album turns into a lengthy off-the-cuff jam with each of the guys taking their turn in the spotlight. A little bit jazzy, a little bit trippy, a little bit out there; but bloody stunning. The harmonies that hit on “Wade into my light/Right into the dark/Don’t put up a fight” are gorgeous and lead into a short burst of strokes on the keys from Robin Piso. In the hands of, for instance, a progressive metal band, this might turn into an ego-fest, but with DeWolff it’s about getting in the groove. And that’s exactly what they do on the towering ‘Rosita’ which makes ‘Will o’ the Wisp’ look like a Ramones track in terms of running time. But for every ‘Rosita’ and ‘Will o’ the Wisp’, DeWolff have a shorter, more commercial moment such as the belting ‘Double Crossing Man’ in their arsenal.

Pop quiz, hot shot. Is there anyone else out there at the minute like DeWolff? Nope. Find out for yourself on one of the remaining dates:

20 March – Oxford, The Bullingdon
21 March – Nottingham, Bodega
22 March – Hastings, Black Box
23 March – London, Omera

For the full European tour dates, visit www.dewolff.nu

All live images – Dave Jamieson

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