With new album ‘Burning Bright’ deservedly earning Laura Cox rave reviews from all corners, the French singer/songwriter/guitarist packed her mightily impressive band into a transit van for a trip across the Channel. Before a brief run of live UK performances concluded at The Waterloo Music Bar in Blackpool, it was the turn of Bannermans in Edinburgh’s Old Town to resurrect the ‘Auld Alliance’ between Scotland and France and play host to them.
Doomsday Outlaw, opening act on the tour, keep it simple and the end result is some pretty tasty hard rock with lashings of groove. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple, as long as you remember to produce well-written and memorable songs. Clutch do it so well that they make it look effortless. Nothing fancy, just vocals, guitars and drums, no searching for that elusive ‘new sound’, simply a case of find what you are good at, and work at it until you master it.
Frontman Phil Poole marches to the beat of his own drum. There are times when you find yourself zoning out and watching him as he mutters away to himself, stares into the light as if trying to remember a joke heard earlier, then laughs to himself as he finally does. Not the stereotypical frontman by a country mile, Poole is dazzling to watch, as is guitarist Alez D’Elia, who not only looks like he was born to be a guitar hero but, more importantly, can play.
Derby’s finest are currently cooking up album number three, therefore the audience was treated to some stunning new material in the shape of tracks such as ‘The End’ and ‘On My Way’. Sitting alongside the newer, mostly unheard material, are Doomsday Outlaw staples like ‘Bring It On Home’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Bring You Pain’. Album number three sounds interesting; the new material is very strong and should hopefully bring Doomsday Outlaw to a wider audience. Connect with the band here.
The Laura Cox Band has been gaining quite a reputation as a band not to be missed live, and it’s easy to see why. Alongside Cox you have François C. Delacoudre on bass, drummer Antonin Guerin and rhythm guitarist Mathieu Albiac; together with the fiery lead work from Cox they make quite a team.
The aforementioned ‘Burning Bright’ album plays a major role in the setlist, which begins with the almost Celtic-like jig of album opener ‘Fire Fire’. A simple chorus, written for audience participation, with a Thin Lizzy feel and a dazzling lead solo from Cox. From here it’s back a year or two for ‘If You Wanna Get Loud – Come To The Show’, followed by a daring cover of ‘Foxy Lady’. Cox breaks out the slide on ‘Too Nice For Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and shows great finesse as the fingers fly up and down the fretboard, an incredible example of guitar fireworks coupled with restraint. And that’s the key point to Cox’s playing; she doesn’t feel that she has to batter the audience over the head, solos are kept within the song and never over-played. Less is more? Not according to Yngwie Malmsteen it isn’t.
The set takes a softer turn with ‘Looking Upside Down’, a gentle suggestion of a country twang to Cox’s playing, on a track that gradually builds into a towering piece of music. The highlight of the evening though is when a gorgeous steel resonator guitar is brought out for the sublime ‘Just Another Game’; it’s a slack-jawed moment on a night of many. The stunning array of guitars at Cox’s disposal means that her guitar tech is a busy man, and after the blues shuffle of ‘As I Am’ he hands over another guitar. It doesn’t seem to be in tune though, and through the medium of facial expressions and hands held outwards in a classic ‘what?’ pose, the point is made, daggers are drawn, and after a few moments we’re all good and the show goes on. No truth in the rumour though that someone started a football-like chant of “You’re getting sacked in the morning!”
With curfew looming large, it’s into encore territory with a killer one-two of ‘Hard Blues Shot’ and new single ‘Freaking Out Loud’, before a vigorous run through of Pat Benatar’s ‘Heartbreaker’ delivers the knockout blow. With the last chords fading out, Laura Cox is off the stage and over at the merch desk signing and posing for pics. Remember kids, merch is where the band makes its money, so don’t bypass it on the way out.
Review – Dave S
Images – Dave Jamieson