Rival Sons and Dirty Honey in Blackburn: a night of full on rock & roll

Live Review

Rival Sons. Photo by Terry Marland.

By Terry Maryland, Rock At Night Wales

Live Review: King George’s Hall, Blackburn, UK – July 2, 2022

Rival Sons have returned to the UK after a three year COVID enforced absence and are supported tonight by rising stars Dirty Honey. Set in the magnificent and intimate surroundings of King George’s Hall, it promises to be a special evening. In these times when so many venues are under threat, it was great to see long queues circling the building before the show as concert goers anticipated a night of full on rock and roll.

Dirty Honey

Dirty Honey. Photo by Terry Marland.

Dirty Honey take to the stage and it’s immediately apparent that the crowd is onside. Their reputation as an authentic in-your-face rock band has been growing steadily on the back of several critically acclaimed releases. They command the stage with all the swagger of veteran performers. Frontman Marc Labelle, who’s amazing  vocals have been compared to Steven Tyler and Robert Plant, struts  his territory, mic-stand in hand and extending it out to the audience for the choruses.  John Notto on guitar belts out killer riffs and strikes all the classic poses along with excellent work from Corey Coverstone on drums and Justin Smolian on bass they are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Dirty Honey. Photo by Terry Marland.

They open  with a powerhouse version of “Gypsy” and follow up with a stream of rock solid numbers including  “California Dreaming” and “Another Last Time” that are familiar to many in the audience. Tonight’s rendition of “When I’m Gone” is truly sublime and they finish with a rousing “Rolling 7’s” with all three outfield members of the band by this time on the extended area of the stage and reaching out to the cheering audience.

Dirty Honey maximise every second of their 40-minute slot performing a well-balanced selection of tracks into their allocated time frame.  On this showing they have the credentials  to take it to the next level and beyond.

Rival Sons

Rival Sons. Photo by Terry Marland.

Rival Sons were scheduled to tour this year with Aerosmith but following a number of postponements the shows were cancelled. Disappointing though that may be, it gives the band the chance to tour their full show as a headline act and further enhance their reputation as one of the best rock and roll l bands around.

This show catches the band on the last leg of their European tour to mark the 10th anniversary of their Pressure and Time breakthrough album and they are firing on all cylinders.

Rival Sons. Photo by Terry Marland.

The first part of their set is a start to finish performance of the album. The first track “All Over The Road” would be a great opener for any set and has the crowd singing along from the off.  Besuited front man Jay Buchanan’s dynamic singing is superb as ever as he struts the stage demonstrating his extraordinary  range. The title track, an extended“Pressure and Time”, showcases the powerhouse drumming capabilities of Michael Miley and has all members of the band taking up percussion duties before dovetailing into a passionate “Only one”.  A scorching 5 minute “White Noise” is electrifying and as it concludes Jay addresses the crowd for the first time dedicating “Face of Life” to “whoever it was” that got you through the last couple of years.

Rival Sons-a packed house. Photo by Terry Marland.

“Pressure and Time” completed with some aplomb, the band lap up the applause before briefly leaving the stage and returning for part two of their set with a blistering version of  the Grammy nominated “Too Bad” from 2019’s (also Grammy nominated) Feral Roots album that sees “Fuzzlord” Scott Holiday demonstrating his scintillating guitar virtuosity as he does throughout the set.

The pace slows for a highly emotional rendition of “Jordan”, a deeply moving song about loss. This is followed up by an atmospheric solo acoustic version  of “Shooting Stars” from Jay that has added relevance given the current global instability.

A new song, the high voltage  “Nobody Wants to Die” closes the set in superb style and although as yet unreleased is obviously already familiar to many audience members who join in the chorus.  It’s a powerful finisher.

A set that started with a look back to an album released 11 years ago concludes with a tantalising pure quality taster of what we can expect in the future.

Rival Sons’ performance tonight has been a masterclass in delivery, pace and performance befitting a band of their stature.

The Blackburn audience is superb throughout and fervently show their appreciation for the band at the end of the set. Hopefully it won’t be long before we see them again.


Terry Marland