As Blues Pills’ singer Elin Larsson points out before their performance, this is the fifth time in the space of a year that the youthful multi-national band have played in London. The capital can’t get enough of them; tonight the Academy is heaving with everyone from young metalheads to veteran beardy bluesers.
But first, we’re treated to a set from Milton Keynes trio RavenEye. The band itself may be green, as their debut EP hasn’t even dropped when they play tonight, but the place is still packed, perhaps because they’re led by award-winning blues guitarist Oli Brown. RavenEye are rockier than his solo work, and their infectious jams paired with boundless energy gets the audience grooving. They’re not without their bluesy moments, either, particularly when they close their set with a lengthy jam session.
Blues Pills have blossomed since their formation in 2011. Speaking sweetly to the audience when they arrive on stage to roaring cheers, Elin Larsson comes across as shy. In their earlier days, this trait sometimes came into her live performance; her rich, mind-blowing voice would always get jaws dropping, but she appeared unable to let herself go fully. This has changed. Tonight she’s in firecracking form, bounding across the stage, shaking her long blonde hair and batting her tambourine with abandon.
Her bandmates are notably more subdued, but their musicianship is top level, particularly in the case of teenage guitar prodigy Dorian Sorriaux, whose elongated solos that frame almost every song are mesmerising. The show feels almost like one long jam; the band barely break from playing all night.
Considering they have only released one full-length album, their setlist hasn’t changed much since the beginning. But with all the improvisation taking place, the songs become more rich in a live setting, from the opening surge of High Class Woman to the soft strums of Dig In and fan favourite Devil Man, which Larsson encourages the audience to sing along to. They also throw in a psychedelic cover of Tony Joe White’s Elements And Things, complete with maracas.
Finally they encore with the wistful Little Sun, and the band then mingle with their fans, a delightfully humble move that ends the night on a high./o:p