MuddiBrooke are a band with a bit of something about them, a quality that’s been evident since their emergence in 2020. (“That was clever, wasn’t it? We couldn’t play live until 2021,” notes Brooke, wryly.) However, this shines most when they perform live.
I saw them open for Virginmarys last year, and it was clear then that they stood out from the rest. This is exemplified by their song “Liverpool Guy,” which embodies a modern grunge style with a raw, personal touch, akin to reading someone’s personal diaries. Similarly, “Devil” exposes the scars of an abusive relationship, while “ADHD” feels even more raw. “Straightjacket” is disorienting, but it’s in “Turn To Dust” and “Float” that you can truly hear their musical growth. The former represents their debut track, while the latter is brand new, but both share a common trait: every word they sing carries genuine emotion.
They end with ‘You Don’t Own Me” a statement of defiance, but one here that seems to stand for MuddiBrooke’s willingness to stand apart.
The greatest rock bands in the world share this ability, but it’s that precise moment when Black Star Riders start heading home and build up to a crescendo. Ricky Warwick, arguably the finest frontman in rock, had said, “He’s not here tonight,” and dedicates a song to Scott Gorham, the Glendale Gunslinger. With that, they launch into “Jailbreak,” and the atmosphere shifts.
This show differs significantly from their performance in early spring when they had just released the “Other Side Of Paradise” album. Gorham played around two-thirds of that album, resulting in a tweaked setlist. Here, with studio drummer Zac St John making his live debut, the show seems slightly better-paced, emphasising that BSR is likely the best band of their kind at the moment.
The show opens with “All Hell’s Breaking Loose,” and while the band is (Warwick apart) different from the lineup on their debut record, one thing remains constant: watching the band guarantees 80 minutes of absolute class.
They’ve accumulated some brilliant songs over the years, forming a back catalogue that can rival any. Tracks like “Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down” and “Another State Of Grace” showcase that album. “Better Than Saturday Night” from their recent one, meanwhile, has come into its own, and “Blindsided” is a testament to their songwriting skill.
Their roots trace back to the greatest hard rock band of all time, but that fact matters less these days. Instead, they’ve distilled the essence of Lizzy and injected it into their work, such as the exceptional “The Killer Instinct” and new songs like “Ride Out The Storm,”.
Now, back to that crescendo. After “Jailbreak,” they perform their take on “Crazy Horses,” a trio that typically concludes BSR shows in some order. “Finest Hour” (dedicated here to the memory of Bernie Marsden) and “Kingdom Of The Lost” stand out, with Sam Wood showcasing his guitar prowess. He truly is a modern guitar hero, and “Bound For Glory” closes the performance. It certainly helps when you have what might be the best song of the last 15 years.
They’d played the latter two at their first-ever gig, a decade ago. I was there, and if you’re watching a literally different band tonight, then given the class of this, for BSR, the more things change…..