Blues Pills may have only released their début self titled album last year, but the four piece blues rock group are already playing headline shows in the UK. They started the tour last week at London’s O2 Islington Academy, bringing support with them from The Pearl Harts and Raveneye.
The Pearl Harts are a female two piece, playing a similar type of bluesy rock music as Blues Pills, but for the small crowd watching, they weren’t really doing a lot to exploit the potential overlap in audience. A fairly dull performance from their guitarist and singer, barely moving from her position throughout the show, with a bland voice which she didn’t really stretch she was unimpressive; with unmemorable songs they were a pleasant enough but completely forgettable opener for the show. Raveneye were much more interesting, their stoner rock with 70’s rock influences was fun, from the distortion driven riffs to the great grooving low end of the bass; add the crashing cymbals to the tight performance and they were a good watch. The drawl to the vocals however felt too forced and started to grate quite quickly, which did mar their set, which was otherwise very good.
Blues Pills on the other hand were mostly fantastic. They many only have one full length album and an EP under their belt, but they still managed to rock a headline set on the night. Elin’s voice was in top form, her powerful bluesy style fitting in so well with the great hard rocking music the band plays. They started fantastically with the two album openers, High Class Woman and Ain’t No Change, two upbeat hard rock songs with great grooving riffs and a killer performance from Elin, belting out the lyrics at full power. With the début album being just forty minutes long, they didn’t have a lot of material to fill a headline set, so a cover of Elements and Things by Tony Joe White gave an extra bit of groove to their set, while they spent some time jamming away through their other songs. It worked in parts with the talented guitarist Dorian soloing away with aplomb, while Zack is one of the grooviest bassists going, but in some of the slower and quieter sections it felt a little self indulgent and like they weren’t really going anywhere with it. It’s a shame, because these moments really did drag down the momentum of a set which was otherwise excellent. The highlight was of course the fan favourite Devil Man, having the crowd singing along and dancing away more than at any other point in the set, with Elin showing off her great voice. An encore of Little Sun was a lovely way to end the set, the sincere and moving bluesy number going down as one of the best moments of the set, Elin’s softer vocals being lovely, and Dorian’s solo typically terrific. However, it’s not one of their more upbeat, rocking numbers and though a great song, seemed an odd choice for an encore – hardly a rousing finale.
Both Raveneye and Blues Pills were a lot of fun to watch on the night and put on a good performance, but despite this one can’t help being a little disappointed. Blues Pills were phenomenal from start to finish with their shorter set at last year’s Hellfest, though perhaps they aren’t quite ready to be headliners yet. But if they make their jams more exciting or add some more songs to their set then they’re going to take the world by storm, because when they’re on fire they’re one of the finest retro-rock bands going right now.