Wille And The Bandits are a consummate trio of musicians who write excellent songs and deliver live better than just about anyone I’ve seen in the last few years.
Last night’s show at the Academy 2 was the last on the current UK tour for their 5* album ‘Paths’ and I would say that anyone who missed them on this tour needs to address that error as soon as possible – the show was electrifying and the band played as hard and as well as I’ve ever seen them.

They opened the set with ‘Victim of the Night’ and it was obvious from the first notes that the band and the crowd were in sync with some serious dancing from the start and with the band seeming to be completely ready to tear the roof off the venue. Wille’s guitar was sharp and his riffs spot on but right from the start Drew’s six string bass and Matt’s drums were working their magic and the sound was powerful, emotional and positively sinuous.

Along with their individual talents the strength of the band is in the songs and the variations in pace. They don’t just play variations on the same song but actually take the crowd on a journey of emotions and physical reactions and the intensity of the music goes along with that. The funk and passion, not to mention exultant peaks, of ‘Make Love’ showed off their playing skills while the riff in ‘’Find My Way’, not to mention the fabulous bass melody and powerhouse drumming is simply irresistible.

‘Watch You Grow’ is a song to Wille’s new baby daughter, beautifully played on the lap streel guitar and with Matt showing his subtle abilities on percussion, a sense of absolute joy at the centre of the song.

Peter Green’s ‘Black Magic Woman’ got the treatment from WATB, taking it in a number of different directions, ‘Keep It On The Downlow’ showed the hip hop skills of the band and a stunning rendition of ‘Mammon’ featuring Wille on acoustic, Drew on his 5 string double bass and Matt playing Djembe really hit deep into the emotions of the packed crowd – normally the Academy is alive with chatter but it suddenly fell silent to this gorgeous number.

Drew stayed on the 5 string for the intro to ‘4 Million Days’, his drone pulling gasps from the crowd, and the song itself just filling the place with the dark passions of the song.

They closed on a superb version of ‘Bad News’ before returning for an encore with an electric and exhausting ‘1970’, always a crowd pleaser and with the whole crowd singing along with the band.

Earlier we were treated to a fine set by the Rainbreakers and the crowd got full value from their soul tinged Blues rock. Definitely a band I want to see more of.

A fabulous night with two bands on top form and a definite contender for gig of the year. Wille And The Bandits are a must see band, just getting better and better.

Picture by Simon Green