Jared James Nichols – The Waterfront, Norwich, UK – 16/07/2019

01 JJ Nichols (Top)

Jared James Nichols
The Waterfront, Norwich, UK
16/07/2019
Review by Paul Monkhouse

Jared James Nichols has built up a solid reputation as one of the leading lights in modern blues rock, his firey gumbo of influences winning the hearts of audiences during tours with Glenn Hughes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, UFO, Saxon, Blue Oyster Cult and ZZ Top amongst others. It speaks a lot about the guitarist that he not only held his own against such legendary artists but gave them all a run for their money and on many nights blew away the headliners. His latest tour of the UK is part of a diverse triple band line-up that also includes Toby Jepson’s 70’s style hard rocking Wayward Sons and the topped-billed game-changers Living Colour. Despite the huge talent on show, Nichols opening set was the one that left the most lasting impression and brought the largest number of converts, all of whom stunned by the power of this three-piece.

Despite the early start time, a sizeable crowd was already pushing against the barrier as a siren rang out and Nichols strolled onto the stage, ripping into opening song ‘Last Chance’. This was rock ‘n’ roll as dirty and loud as you could have wished for, the muscular playing reminiscent of Cream at their most forceful but with an edge that spoke of years spent playing in rough bars all over small towns in the States. There was a real ferocity here that screamed to be let loose, all whilst being totally controlled by a band who knew exactly what they were doing. This juxtaposition of the feral and the crafted in their performance was such a fine balance that it equally thrilled and amazed, the adrenaline rush of being strapped into a turbocharged supercar driven by a Nascar champion.

‘Don’t Be Scared’ was a blistering display of heavy blues and saw Nichols flicking his guitar lead to slam and dance across the strings as he played the solo. This wasn’t the only extraordinary thing that struck about the performance as it was impossible not to marvel at how he played with such dexterity and heaviness without a pick, his right hand wrenching and dancing on the frets bereft of a plectrum to take the strain across the tight wound steel strings of his beloved Les Paul. The funky ‘Honey Forgive Me’ dripped with a raw passion and ‘End of Time’ rode along with a loping rhythm whilst conjuring a sound that brought to mind something akin to Jimi Hendrix jamming with Led Zeppelin.

02 JJ Nichols (Middle)

The heads-down boogie of ‘Baby Can You Feel It’ really swung as bass player Ronnie Elvis James and drummer Dennis Holms were watertight, James a study in trucker cool whilst Holms was a mass of flying blonde hair. Nichols himself cuts an imposing figure, standing well over six feet tall and all muscles, tattoos and hair and it’s one of these tattoos that catches the eye: a curled snake on his left arm. Whilst a first glance looking like the one Metallica had on the cover of the ‘Black Album’, this was actually part of the Gadsden Flag, depicting a coiled rattlesnake ready to strike and such it was with the jabs and controlled ferocity of his playing on new single ‘Nails in the Coffin’. The track opened to the sound of rolling thunder and rain and continued in this vein, a brooding and atmospheric track full of dread and dark power, providing an appetite whetting taster of things to come.

‘Hardwired’ may have shared a title with the San Francisco thrash giants but this was purely titular as the track came over as the love child of Whitesnake and Ted Nugent, all lascivious guitar work and macho strutting but none the worse for either. Closing the set was a staggering cover of Mountain’s classic ‘Mississippi Queen’, replete with the greatest cowbell playing in rock outside of ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ and a freshness that captured the vitality of the original but turned up several notches. Closing with such a well-known and much-loved song was a gamble but the fact that their own material can stand shoulder to shoulder and not feel out of place with it speaks volumes. The future, seemingly, belongs to him. All hail the new King of Blues Rock.

LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/Jaredjamesnichols/

https://www.instagram.com/jaredjamesnichols/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzbfeZRfm79klg5WCSlUWXw

03 JJ Nichols (Bottom)

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

 

Twisted Illusion – I Have Music, I Have Life (Live Album)

 

I Have Music, I Have Live Cover

Twisted Illusion – I Have Music, I Have Life (Live Album)
Self-Released
Release Date: 21/12/2018
Running time: 41:02
Review By Beth Jones
6/10

I’m slightly frustrated today, listening to the new live release by the fabulous Twisted Illusion, and I will tell you why.

For those of you who have not come across Twisted Illusion, they are a bunch of uber-talented guys who create a very unique brand of Prog Metal. Front man Matt Jones is a big character, and they have excellent stage presence live, and brilliant musicality recorded. They work hard and live for their art.

Their new release “I Have Music, I Have Life” was recorded live at a recent gig in Norwich. This is where my frustration comes in. Musically, they are as always superb; complex rhythms, outstanding vocals, and ripping guitar solos. Unfortunately for the first three or four songs, you can’t hear anything properly apart from the vocals, as the live mix was not great at all. First niggle. It does improve after about ten minutes, but it is still missing a bit of volume on the Bass for me and is still a bit hit and miss with some of the vocal levels in comparison with everything else.

Once the sound becomes more equal, it is much easier to hear the guitar wizardry of Steve Revier, who was appearing with them for this performance. He has great tone and it works really well, complimenting Matt’s vocals and guitar and adding an extra element to the sound.

The set is a very lively one, full of a whole roster of cracking tunes, which makes it move on a pace whilst the music is playing, but here is my beef number two; Too much rabbiting between songs. I don’t mind a bit of banter, and it is a good thing to be connected with your audience, but I think on a live album, it is difficult to stay connected when you can’t hear some of what the crowd or other band members are saying and responding to. It forces you to lose interest a little. I also have to say that, whilst I am no prude, there is rather gratuitous use of the word c**t at the beginning of the album, and because the album is recorded as one long track, rather than multiple tracks, you can’t skip it! Now, I can get over this because I know that good music is coming, but a lot would have an issue with it and would turn the album off before a single note had been played and that would be a travesty and completely counter – productive to what the band are trying to achieve. It is unnecessary. The music is awesome and can speak for itself, so let it!

Whilst this has got me doing my teacher face a little, there are many, many good elements – the actual performance from a playing point of view is difficult to fault, the vocals are huge, the complexity of the compositions is warped but insanely brilliant and these things combined make Twisted Illusion instantly identifiable, whether it is a live recording or a studio album, and this release is definitely one to have for TI fans old and new. However, I can’t help feeling that maybe it would have been better to take more time over releasing it – maybe recording it at a different gig and making sure that the recorded sound mix was spot on before putting it out there. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m too picky. Maybe I am in a bad mood. I still love Twisted Illusion and hope that they can continue making great music for a long time.

TRACKLIST:
01 TI Live at Norwich

LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTIband/

https://www.instagram.com/twistedillusion__official/
https://twistedillusion.bandcamp.com/
https://twistedillusion.bigcartel.com/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK0IxAnfXG7ibOx4HUyOHQQ

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.