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Blues Pills, live in London

Blues Pills take on the church...

Yesterday Blues Pills released their debut self-titled album in the UK, and in honour of that they took to a small church in the centre of London for a very special show. This is what went down...

This is a very metal venue

St. Pancras Old Chuch is actually an active church, with a graveyard that’s perfect for metalheads. Eerie and slightly forbidding, it’s dominated by a huge stone cross – the sort that you’d expect to find in a Black Sabbath stage set. And there’s also an old tree overhanging it, and this appears to have an animated face, at turns both snarling and smiling. Doomy! Inside the church, the lighting is subdued, giving the entire place an intimate yet alien smell. This would be ideal for a Triptykon gig. Forget about surround sound, this is surreal sound.

There’s a diverse audience here

Blues Pills attract a wide variety of interest. Here, you can spot people in Primordial, Witchfinder General, UFO and AC/DC t-shirts. One couple have even flown in from Cologne just for this gig. “We follow Blues Pills everywhere,” one of them explains. “They are already very big in Germany.”

Blues Pills sound like…

There are just so many reference points that, in reality, they sound like… well, Blues Pills. You can hear original Fleetwood Mac, Free, very early Deep Purple, Clutch, Rival Sons, Anathema. But what it comes down to is that there’s something special and individual about this multi-national four-piece. They’re a contemporary hard rock band who can appeal to a wide cross section of fans.

The sound is rather dodgy

This venue is set up for acoustic performances rather than the electric one we get tonight. So, there are times when everything bleeds into a haemorrhaging mess. But, it says so much about the band that, ultimately, nobody cares. The sheer charisma and strength of the band overcomes all audio obstacles.

Highlights?

Each song is performed with that combination of spontaneity and discipline that marks Blues Pills out as remarkable. Like all great bands, they delve into every track as if it’s the first time they’ve played it live, such is their wide-eyed joy at what’s being discovering hidden in the depths. But the band are also so tight, you get sucked right into the eye of the musical storm, and don’t want to get out. High Class Woman is a stunning opener, with Little Sun a climactic finish.

Low point?

When Dorian Sorriaux breaks a string and has to get another guitar, there’s an uncomfortable silence onstage. The band simply don’t know how to handle the situation. And vocalist Elin Larsson uncertainly admits that, “I wish I knew a joke!” smacks of naivety. The only time when Blues Pills’ inexperience comes out.

So, are they any good?

More than just good, Blues Pills are a sensation. Larsson has a rich and evocative voice that invokes so many greats from the past, and Sorriaux has a searching dexterity and craft. Locked together almost telepathically, they’ve the ability to turn music into art, while never losing sight of its physicality.

Odd ending, though

When the last chords of Little Sun fade away and the band shuffle off, everyone expects an encore. None happens. Because the lighting here is subdued, and there are no house lights as such, the place remains in comparative darkness, which adds to the expectation. It takes a few minutes for people to realise there won’t be an encore. A stuttering and rather amusing end to the night.

Will we remember this gig?

Oh yes. It will be one of the most memorable of 2014.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio (opens in new tab), which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.