Inglorious: The Junction – Plymouth
Friday 17th September 2021
Review and pics – Rob Wilkins
Huge arena shows with lighting rigs visible from space and a stage the size of a football field are all very well, but give me a cramped rock pub on a Friday night with great beer and sweat running into your eyes in the Hades-like temperature any day! Queueing outside The Junction, Plymouth’s home of live music last Friday I heard several people commenting on the size of the venue and reassured them that they would love it. To a man, they did just that as we recovered and rehydrated later.
Setting the scene were Mercutio. I have seen the four-piece support Inglorious previously but tonight they seemed to have raised their game an entire level. Midway through the set vocalist Ross sounded surprised as he thanked the crowd for being so involved in their set, and he was right! Maybe they benefitted from that cramped, pub vibe as there was no bar to hide at. If you were in the venue you were within a few metres of the stage! Their set was cut very short due to curfews etc but their six songs, starting with “Where the Pain Lives” and closing with “Chaos is King” went down exceptionally well.
Since I last saw Inglorious they have released not one, but two albums in “We Will Ride” and the cover album “Heroine”, so the set is made up of a large number of songs I haven’t heard live before. Having loved both albums I confess to being really excited to hear them!
They take to the stage to one of the absolute stand-out songs from the self-penned of those albums; “She Won’t Let You Go”. It is clear from the first note out of Nathan James’ throat that he is in fine form as he belts the lyrics out and hits the first challenging high note easily. With barely a pause for breath, it is straight into “Messiah”, another absolute cracker off “WWR”. We then journey right back to the first album for a breakneck version of “Breakaway” with the two guitarists Danny Dela Cruz and Dan Stevens ripping the lead lines out at lightning speed.
The first track from “Heroine” follows in “Midnight Sky”. I will be honest and say that it is not one of my favourites off that album but it gives James a chance to introduce the album and the fact that a contribution to the charity Women’s Aid is being made for every copy sold. It certainly sounds more of a rocker live, but I still have many other tracks on that album that I prefer to listen to.
“Where Are You Now” brings back the swagger along with the syrupy smooth intro vocals replaced by ever-rising and more powerful delivery as it progresses, and then follows the raw Bluesy power of “My Misery” and “Read All About It”, raised up a notch by the keys of Rob Lindop. Then, for me, the night simply took off with two of the songs off “Heroine” that demonstrated beyond any doubt just how good this band is. Firstly, James introduced “Barracuda”, talking about how it was a difficult song even for female vocalists so had no idea why he decided on it for the album. He then suggested that if the crowd knew the lyrics they didn’t sing along as it was really off-putting which made me laugh out loud. His vocals were simply staggering. Towards the end of the song, there are a few notes on the album that I don’t think I have ever heard a male vocalist sing (one sounds like a dog whistle!). To my utter astonishment, he sang those notes live! The appropriate point in the song was reached. He visibly rearranged his entire vocal apparatus and my jaw dropped! It isn’t just the Nathan James show though as another cover, “Uninvited” followed straight on. I have seen this played live several times and it is stupendous. Somehow it turns the original into a dark and brooding, Zeppelinesque stunner. During the song, Dan Stevens shows his class with two ripping solos, and then Danny Dela Cruz whips up the audience before launching into a sublime solo spot that showcases his ridiculous talent and skill. I can honestly say that I would have paid the price of admission for these two songs alone as there cannot be a better front trio playing live anywhere right now!
Back to another belter off “We Will Ride” with the dirty slide guitar of “Medusa” and a dose of early Whitesnake and then back to the blues for “Holy Water” and more syrupy vocals. James introduces the next song saying it showcases just how good the two guitarists really are (as if “Uninvited didn’t!) and they rip into “He Will Provide”. This song is utterly immense. It is epic in every way, and then, at the end, following a dark and brooding tension, Dan and Danny utterly let rip. It has to be heard to be believed as they tear their fretboards to shreds and play off each other before coming together in glorious harmony with elements of Blackmore and Randy Rhoads in the runs and off-key far eastern scales. Throughout all these musical fireworks huge credit has to go to those behind as Phil Beaver, Vinnie Colla and Rob Lindop lay down huge rhythms and a glorious soundscape for the front three to work their magic on.
“I Don’t Need Your Loving” is followed by the deliciously rich “Eye of the Storm”, once again showing how James can deliver such a range of styles and is capable of huge variation of both power and range. The set proper is closed with the bombastic “We Will Ride” before the band reappears for the iconic “Until I Die” and leave themselves and the crowd dripping with sweat.
There are a lot of bands touring post covid and it isn’t possible to see every gig that comes to town, but if you want a band that I believe should be considered the best Classic rock-influenced band in the UK, showcasing a stunning vocal talent, flanked by two of the best guitarists you will see, playing superbly written material, get along and see Inglorious if you can.