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Live Review: The Record Company at the 100 Club, London

Fun and funky, yet hard-as-nails: How does The Record Company's blues rock cocktail taste in one of London's most iconic venues?

It’s been four songs and frontman Chris Vos has already had four gear changes. There was the harmonica and green bullet mic for opener On The Move (with bassist Alex Stiff fulfilling a rhythm guitarist-like role), then the biting Telecaster, the acoustic guitar and some sweet slide action. Together with Stiff and drummer Marc Cazorla, Vos has swiftly squashed any suggestion that their unassuming appearance (and slightly hipster-y band name) might translate into their performance. It really hasn’t.

“Alright! We broke something!” he beams, after the bluesy strum n’ thump of Hard Day Coming Down, before recalling, in awe, the time he saw the Stooges (“they broke everything after, like, two songs!”). He looks genuinely delighted, having thrashed around a hell of a lot more than we’d expect from a modest-looking bloke in a bluesy band. The crowd – impressively sized for the 100 Club on a Wednesday night – cheer in approval.

Formed via Craigslist in 2011, The Record Company aren’t your typical rootsy American rockers. They’re LA-based but hail from Wisconsin, Philadelphia and upstate New York – and sound like something cooked up in Detroit, via London, in the 60s/early-70s. On record their album Give It Back To You is a slick, cool cocktail of John Lee Hooker blues, proto-punk hints and contemporary sensibilities. Onstage it’s a far more loose, energetic affair – fun and funky, yet hard-as-nails when they need it to be. And Vos’s voice becomes especially soulful, lending a 70s, Paul Rodgers-esque richness to proceedings.

It all means that where onemight have expected a solid, straight-head night of blues rock, what we actually get is much more colourful and interesting. And it’s no less passionate or engaging for it; the three of them clearly mean every note of this, from commanding single Off The Ground to their jammed-out cover of the Beastie Boys’ So Whatcha Want. This is a band doing something genuinely refreshing with a Rolling Stones-meets-Free (via the USA) style, and it’s a delight to watch. “I hope this one sends you home thinking dirty thoughts!” Vos declares cheerfully, before closing the night with shuffling, feel-good knees-up In The Mood For You.

So no, don’t be deterred by any quieter first impressions. We’ll sure as hell be checking them out next time they’re in town, and recommend you do the same.

John Lee Hooker Buyer's Guide