Double header events do not get much better than this one. Toronto based The Commoners and Troy Redfern with his band; a marriage of Roots, Americana and blues rock all set in the splendid venue the Voodoo Rooms, a class venue, also used a lot by Edinburgh Blues Club affiliated to Blues Matters magazine. The Commoners are a five-piece outfit, and this was their first Scottish date.
IMAGES: Stuart Stott
WORDS: Colin Campbell
Their music is blues based but there are differing layers to their musical style, hints of Brave Rivals, Black Crows that type of vibe, but they have a common bond, to entertain and be themselves, such was the case with their blistering set, predominantly garnered from their newest acclaimed release, Find A Better Way.
Straight into action with the rocking More Than Mistakes. With a faint Motown feel to the tone of this, relating to world events recently and the general disillusionment therein. Their appearance onstage gives a feel of nostalgia, hearkening to early 70s Eagles, long hair beards and a relaxing happy comforting presence. Find a Better Way had a Southern rock style, lead singer Chris Medhurst vocals soared along with great guitar work by himself and Ross Citrullo on lead.
This band is a solid unit and entertained an enthusiastic crowd, not bad for a Monday night. A new tune next Devil Teasing Me had a good groove, rhythm section standing out here, Adam Cannon on drums and Ben Spiller on bass keeping the groove going. Body And Soul was a particular highlight, guttural vocals blended into an ethereal sound with the addition of a violin bow by guitarist Citrullo just made this special. Who Are You was an old tune but not recorded yet.
Then the harmonies kicked in on the wonderfully melodic tune Naturally. They covered Sweet Melissa the Allman brothers track faithfully, a great sound to this tune. Hangin’ On Again was very atmospheric and built up well, keyboards added that certain twist by Miles Branagh. Final tune, Fill My Cup saw the band rock out, soaring guitar riffs but not over soloing at any point of the set. A very entertaining set full of musical nuances, clever lyrics, sonic landscapes leaving the crowd wanting more. A band to watch out for, full on Canadian Blues Rock at its best, catch them while you can.
Tonight, Troy was headline, although through this tour the bands have been alternating this set up, a really clever idea.
Anyway, the king of British slide guitar blues rock entered the stage with drummer, Finn McAuley and the gifted bass guitarist, Scottish born Kiera Kenworthy on bass guitar. Wearing his custom-made hat, leather waistcoat and various jewellery and tattoos he looked an intimidating presence on stage.
Add to that the way he attacks his guitar playing especially high fret work slide craftmanship, he’s the whole rock blues outlaw bringing his brand of loud and mesmeric guitar work to his adoring audience. This was a business-like performance, just pure energy from start to finish from a powerhouse trio that filled the venue with soaring searing guitar tones set to a wonderful backbeat. All Night Long was the first tune, a new frenetically paced tune full on power setting the scene for the whole hour’s set.
Next was Sweet Carolina full of clever slide guitar licks and visceral vocal delivery. Come On, had an almost Glam rock take, some T Rex vibes to this, just an observation but dirty sleazy slide throughout. He trades licks with Kiera who supplied backing vocals also on some tunes. Finn was like a non-stop stomping machine, really spectacular drummer. Dark Religion has a Spaghetti Western feel, that Troy alluded to in a recent interview with Blues Matters. Very atmospheric and bold tune. Another new tune, The Native, had pulsating rhythms and sonic guitar work. The pulsating bass line also noted on the song, Down,another song from his newest release The Wings Of Salvation.
Another mesmerising song is Scorpio, full of slide guitar riffs, echoing around the venue, much appreciated by the crowd. Back-to-back new songs next from the next release, The Fever and The Strange had more slide and riffs and rhythm aplenty, the on-stage energy was palpable. On, Waiting For Your Love, Troy sneers and distorts his vocals as much as he does his fretwork and slide, just an art to watch, very entertaining, driving rock inspired tune. He kept the best until last, Sanctify makes for a furiously paced ending, full of catchy riffs and in your face power.
His sound is unique. His style his own, he can put on a great show, definitely inspiring and enjoyable. Two great bands, one fantastic night!