Rival Sons and Blues Pills, live in Newcastle

A big year for Rivals Sons ends up just down the road from the Bigg Market

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They’ve already bagged Classic Rock Magazine’s Album Of The Year, but can Rival Sons cap an incredible 2014 with a live tour de force? This is what we learned.

Blues Pills are at the heart of rock’s bullish recovery Looking for the antidote to Gene Simmons’ cynicism? Look no further than cure-all classic rockers Blues Pills. Young enough to be the bastard offspring of at least two thirds of this audience, the fact that the venue is almost full by 8pm proves the headliners are just half the story on this must-see tour. The band’s first show in Newcastle is pure bliss as the winsome Elin Larsson whips the masses into a retro-fuelled frenzy. Flanked by ethereal Frenchman Dorian Sorriaux – his guitar strapped over a striking maroon velvet jacket – Blues Pills’ enchanting Swedish chanteuse confirms Christmas really can come early.

**The studio is only the start where this band is concerned **The transition from studio to stage is never more compelling than when you’re in the company of Rival Sons. Tunes that scream raw passion on record are transformed into a whole new animal in the live arena as Jay Buchanan and Scott Holiday let their creativity run wild. Three songs in and the stunning Secret allows both men to push the boundaries of their musical development and excite the masses as they dream of what might lie ahead. Buchanan — sporting an unkempt mop a la The Cure’s Robert Smith and trousers six inches too short — looks like an urchin but there’s nothing messy about this performance, as a confident swagger courses through the set and a brilliant band never misses a step.

**Even the Beste laid plans can’t account for the curse of the tour bus **‘New boy’ Dave Beste isn’t renowned for replicating Buchanan’s onstage histrionics but even Rival Sons’ gentle giant appears subdued tonight. And there’s a reason he’s playing it safe. A nasty bump to the head (Beste had a run-in with a tour bus bunk the previous night) might well have hospitalised the groggy bass player had it not been for the four-hour wait at the local A&E. Newcastle’s crowd has the NHS – and ever-watchful keyboardist/carer Todd Ögren-Brooks – to thank for a full complement of Sons on the band’s penultimate UK date.

What a difference a week makes There’s a rumour going around town that the O2 Academy is cursed when it comes to creating the perfect live mix. Only six days earlier Michael Schenker’s muddy show at the same venue was so dreadful that the former UFO and Scorpions maestro sacked his sound engineer on the spot. Rival Sons proceed to explode a popular myth by playing a pin-sharp set from start to finish – Manifest Destiny, Part 1 providing compelling proof that this former bingo hall can come across like the Royal Albert Hall in the right hands. By the time Keep On Swinging brings a triumphant night to a dynamic end, it’s as if we’ve all been listening to the gig through a pair of high end, high definition earphones.

What the band say:

Scott Holiday: With two shows left I’m going to do some rapid Christmas shopping! I’ve been buying stuff while I’ve been out on the road so I’m ahead of the game. What I’m dreaming of right now is being in one of those Christmas movies where I’m sat with my cup of cocoa, surrounded by my two beautiful children and my beautiful wife, sat by the fire and the tree. But I’ve loved every minute of this tour - being on the road with Jameson and Blues Pills. Miley turned me on to Blues Pills in the summer of 2013 and I was like ‘they’re a good band’. Then I realised they were all 20-somethings! So we dug into them a bit more. We moved in a lot of the same circles - and of course they’ve featured in Classic Rock Magazine - so we thought let’s bring them out with us. They’re wonderful people and very sweet kids.

Michael Miley: We’ve been out on the road for around six weeks and we’re looking forward to getting home for Christmas. It’s all about family at this time of year. And home cooked meals. And my bed. But we love coming back to Newcastle. We played the arena with Judas Priest and Queensryche a few years ago and we’ve been here a few times since. Our fans have been loving Blues Pills on this tour and enjoying the music of our good friend Jameson. He’s been getting a good reception all tour – he’s our friend from home and he’s on the bus with us every night. It’s been great.