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The Musician, Leicester
Wednesday 9th December 2015

Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland

virgil and the accelerators

Virgil And The Accelerators have spent the last few years treading the boards of stages around the UK and Europe playing their incendiary brand of blues rock to anyone who will listen.

With headline club dates and tours supporting the likes of Uriah Heep and Wilko Johnson under their belt in support of their two studio albums to date, they are becoming an experienced outfit with a growing reputation.

The Birmingham based power trio have added a new bass player in the exotically named Joel Wildgoose since I last saw them but as they launch into opening track 'Take Me Higher' it is immediately obvious that the change has not altered their sound or their attitude.

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The essential chemistry which makes a power trio set up work is still fully present and accounted for thankfully. The southern rock tinged edges of the song are a deceptively restrained start to a set and allow main man Virgil McMahon the chance to show he has a fine line in mellow, soulful vocals.

It's not long before the power in the song builds though and the first of the evening's many powerful and fluid guitar solos impresses the crowd.

The elder McMahon's guitar skills are of course the focus of the band and he has plenty of talent in that regard to share.

virgil and the accelerators

He is mild mannered and gentlemanly between songs, maybe even too much so as there is sometimes a dip in atmosphere but as soon as he starts playing his guitar there is a feisty, fiery temperament in evidence and if you like a well played guitar the result is often hypnotic and virtually irresistible.

He can cover all the styles he needs, like in the gentle, Stevie Ray Vaughan like bluesiness of 'Silver Giver' but he is at his best when let off the leash from the structure of a song and allowed just to blast out fervent, fluid bursts of notes.

This is of course a power trio though so the guitar histrionics need the right backing and boy do they have that in spades. Mr Wildgoose keeps that bass pumping to fill out the sound and Gabriel McMahon, Virgil's younger brother on drums is a revelation.

virgil and the accelerators

He has plenty of subtle moves and fills when required but always just seems to be waiting for the moment when he can unleash that inner demon and batter his kit into submission in a flailing windmill of arms, hair and no little talent.

There are some good tunes aired tonight such as the crunchy riffing of 'All Night Long' and the bluesy rage of 'Backstabber' but for me it is when the musicians really get to let rip in some extended mid sections of songs where the true effect of the band can be seen and heard. In full flow they can be hypnotic and put on a fantastic display of musical power.

virgil and the accelerators

If all this extended soloing sounds a bit 1970s, well it sometimes is but retro is in and they can twist that vibe into more modern places too such as morphing into a brilliant instrumental cover of Rage Against The Machine's 'Bullet In The Head' at one point.

An excellent set of blistering blues rock ended with another cover on the night, this time Zeppelin's 'Rock And Roll' with Joel Wildgoose supplying the lead vocals.

This went down a storm with a crowd who loved the rest of the set too but I felt it was slightly redundant compared to what had gone before. A compliment to the original material and the band's own style perhaps.

The Musician had a respectable size crowd for a winter Wednesday night but I couldn't help feeling on the night that this is a band who need to get on bigger stages and really get the chance to show the world what they can do. Festival organisers, are you listening?

virgil and the accelerators

Take Me Higher
Blow To The Head
All Night Long
Give It Up
The Storm/Bullet In The Head
Working Man
Silver Giver

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