added: 13 Dec 2013
// gig date: 11 Dec 2013
reviewer: Andy Snipper
Preconceptions can be dangerous. You go along expecting to be massively underwhelmed by the sight and sound of an overpaid ex-sport star in killing time his backup career and ‘Mr’ to a superstar singer. You walk away from the gig thinking, wow what a band and what a great guy.
The story is well enough known – James Toseland was a world champion motorbike rider. He was the first to win the world championships with two different manufacturers and suffered what turned out to be a career-ending injury when he ruined his wrist in a testing accident. He was also the keyboards player and occasional singer in a covers band – Crash – and after his motorcycling career ended he looked at making his way in the music ‘biz’ and incidentally met and married Katie Melua. So far so Hollywood story.
He then went right off script by holing up and sitting down with Toby Jepson (Little Angels) to write some songs and discovered that, by dint of long hours and all the rest he actually had talent as a songwriter as well as a vocalist and has now put together a band who have done things the hard way by playing as support to Little Angels and the mighty Reef, playing on the acoustic stage at Download and now playing a headlining tour in the clubs and building a following. Which is where I saw them at O2 in Islington.
To put it simply, they kicked ass – righteously and very loudly. They sit somewhere along a line of latitude from Reef to Guns & Roses but they have none of the studied mannerisms of G&R. The band include Katie’s brother Zurab on guitar along with Dave Hollingsworth on bass, Rabea Massaad on guitar and William Stokes on drums and on a tiny stage they poured out an hour of powerful rock and had the crowd completely won. The singles, ‘Renagade’ and ‘Life Is Beautiful’ sounded great live and it was easy to see why Planet Rock Radio had gotten so excited by them. The less familiar material sounded no less effective and it looks like the album, due next year and already recorded, will be a cracker. Toseland’s piano skills came out of a raucous ‘Saturday Night (all right for fighting)’ which went down a treat.
The band are using Pledge music to get the album pre-bought and there seem to be no shortage of people queuing to get on board – this band are making things happen the right way – grafting and playing the small places I spoke to Toseland himself before the gig and he was buzzing over having pulled a full crowd to the gig the night before in Wolverhampton. The Black Country crowds love their rock but I’ve seen bands bottled off there in the past so to win them over with an unfamiliar set suggests that they have something going on.
Nice guy, top band and really put out some great sounds - looking forward to the album already!
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