We are The Record Company and we play rock’n’roll,” announces Chris Vos as the Californian trio takes the stage. Given how closely that echoes the way Lemmy always introduced Motörhead, that’s a bold gauntlet to throw down, and it’s too early in the musical lives of Vos, bassist Alex Stiff and drummer Marc Cazorla for them to walk in such hallowed shoes.
Tonight marks their first headline show in London after opening for Blackberry Smoke on their last visit to these shores. They kick off with Goodbye Sad Eyes, an early misstep as it requires Vos to sit down with his slide guitar. But the energy soon kicks in when he’s up on his feet for On The Move and quickly has the crowd behind him. Vocally, the frontman has a rich, soulful delivery in the spirit of JJ Grey, although The Record Company can’t manage to rival the stylistic versatility of Grey’s band Mofro.
“We’re a lean, mean rock’n’roll machine,” declares Vos, but their sound is really a mixture of swamp rock, blues and Stooges’ proto-punk. When Vos takes a guitar solo, he plays lead-rhythm, thrashing out chords rather than moving around the scales. Stiff and Cazorla have a very particular mid-tempo pocket where they feel at home and hopefully as they move beyond the material from their first album they can expand their rhythmic palette.
There’s a dash of the Bo Diddley beat in Don’t Let Me Get Lonely and more variety in the grooves can only be a good thing. That said, their no-frills style and knack for call and response, demonstrated in Feels So Good and The Burner, whips the London audience into a state of ecstasy. They wrap with Freddy Cannon’s rockabilly stroller Tallahassee Lassie, played raw and ragged. Bags of energy and potential here, but there’s work to be done.