||THE GRAVELTONES/KILL IT KID
16th September 2015
Liz Medhurst: Photos by Sean Cameron
From the information we were given, tonight was billed as the first date of this UK leg of The Graveltones tour, so definitely something to look forward to. It was therefore a big disappointment to arrive at the venue to find that they were not the headliners, but support to Kill It Kid and not the other way round.
It was one of those head in hand moments, first world problems, as a feeling of despondency set in based on having seen the duo before, knowing what an amazing live act they are and realising that tonight’s encounter was going to be so brief.
No point in fretting though, just something to be dealt with, and a short set by The Graveltones is better than no set at all. And what a set - thirty minutes of blistering and intense energy, proving that they are still one of the very best live acts around today.
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The Graveltones are Jimmy O and Mikey Sorbello, who have reinvented the blues, uncovering its heavy side in the most wonderful and passionate ways.
There are plenty of occasions when I come out of a gig having had a truly great time, but it’s much rarer these days to feel excitement and a thrill, an experience that really moves me. Part of it is an occupational hazard of going to so many, thus moments when it does happen are highlights indeed.
And The Graveltones deliver this by the bucketload, calling forth intense blues, the heaviest of beats, drama, fervour and a telepathic communication which creates outstanding stagecraft.
The new album ‘Love Lies Dying’ (reviewed here) had brought an evolution in their sound so I was very interested to see if the live shows had changed. The answer is not really, it is still as brilliant and energetic as ever, but what we did get was a further progression for the new songs which, while still recognisable, were completely different animals when dressed up and ready to go out.
The sound was luscious, enhanced by a more than decent array of effects pedals and drumming that could rearrange your DNA.
The first three tracks – all from ‘Love Lies Dying’ - were played relentlessly back to back, as always the “more is more” attitude and utter immersion in the set being in evidence from the start.
There was biblical rain in London tonight, and as the sweat started to pour from Jimmy as he threw himself around the stage, the first few rows were probably wondering if they were ever going to be dry again.
This was a set that brought the excitement back into live music. The audience reaction showed that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, with attention held throughout the set and plenty of mouthed “wow”s.
During ‘In The Throes’, a song that is punctuated by dramatic pauses, one of these became even more dramatic as a guitar string broke – no surprise there given the battering it was taking – and Jimmy changed it mid-song adding to the performance beautifully without breaking the spell.
For ‘You Rascal, You’ Mikey pounded the drums with double drumsticks and Jimmy belted out the intense and deranged lyrics with no other accompaniment – not even a microphone for the second half of it. It was feral, it was exhilarating and stunned the crowd into awed admiration.
As the hook-laden‘Fancy Things’ rounded off the stunning but short set, the cheers were nearly as loud as the tracks. This was everything I wanted from a live experience and to say that I was left wanting more was a massive understatement. Half a pint docked from the score only because of the brevity.
The Graveltones Setlist:
Kiss And Fuck Off
Come And Find Me
Never Gonna Let You Go
Can’t Tell A Man
In The Throes
You Rascal You
And so on to Kill It Kid, a band that have received accolades, awards and a respectable following in their five year history.
There was certainly much that was good about tonight’s set – fine harmonies, plenty of texture, a blend of blues, Americana and grunge, ample grooves, and impressive lighting.
At times we got hints of Woody Guthrie on steroids and Stephanie Ward’s keyboards and vocals were put to great effect on ‘Wild And Wasted Waters’. ‘Blood Stop And Run’ has a driving beat, a raw blues sensibility, and energy and lighting which went for a sucker punch.
Despite all this, I have to conclude that it was good but it wasn’t great. The band could not even get close to the level of excitement which the previous band generated, and not every song hit the mark, suffering from one too many flourishes in places, or a feeling of trying too hard.
A case in point was ‘Hurts To Be Loved’, the intense ballad lessened by the effect of an overdrive of reverb and too many vocal gymnastics leaving it slightly confused in places.
It can be summed up quite simply – there was nothing really bad about Kill It Kid tonight, but as they followed The Graveltones they could not create anything like the same engagement. On a different night their impact would have been greater but the support band blew them off the stage.
Kill It Kid Set List:
I’ll Be The First
You’re In My Blood
Tired Of The Way You Want To Live
Wild And Wasted Waters
Blood Stop And Run
Pray On Me
Hurts To Be Loved By You
Heart Rested With You
Boom Shally Wah
Let My Feet Fall Heavy
Kill it Kid play three dates in the USA in October. The Graveltones continue the UK leg of their tour with headline and festival dates until the end of October.