CROBOT, The Bad Flowers, Dirty Thrills @Rainbow Courtyard, Birmingham 22/6/16


Pennsylvania’s finest are in Birmingham and God help any tigers present

Self proclaimed “dirty blues” rock from London, Dirty Thrills live up to that epithet with a set that’s hip-shaking and groovy in equal measure. Kinda like the Black Crowes with a soul-filled heart, they set about enjoying their first visit to Birmingham. The four piece, who have singer Louis James slinking his way through their set and killer songs like the positively filthy sounding “No Resolve” in their locker, boast much to enjoy. And with the last song “Sigh” marrying a massive slab of guitar and all their 1960s sensibilities, there’s much excitement in the grime.

Cannock’s The Bad Flowers have, over the last year or so, moved up a notch or two and with shows like this, their obvious potential is quickly morphing into a genuine shot at the next level. Opening with a new song “Can You Feel It” from their just released EP, the confidence that was on show when they opened for The Sheepdogs here a couple of months ago, is even more prevalent tonight. More of the fresh material like “Big Country” is great fun, while “Hurricane” boasts a big ol’ hook and and a smile on its face, while “Livin’ The Dream” really lets it’s hair down, and another new tune, “City Lights” is a thumping conclusion. The Bad Flowers are coming on strong and blooming lovely.

By the time 9-15 ticks around and Crobot take the stage it is about a million degrees in the Rainbow Courtyard, so it might be the heat talking when Brandon Yeagley – singer, harmonica player, mover and shaker in Crobot – offers the thought that “we have a saying in this band. Catch a tiger, suck it’s dick…..” But then again, it’s also very likely indeed that Yeagley and the rest of the band actually would do such a thing – and it is probable that if they did the Tiger would say thank you and buy a Crobot t-shirt.

Cos, y’see, it’s like this. There’s much bullshit talked about rock being dead. MVM defies anyone who sees this band, and moreover the audience reaction to them, to suggest that that rock is even remotely struggling, or indeed that it is anything but in rude health.

The four-piece appear to know they are good, and they know people love them, why else, after all, would they come out and play three songs that no one knows from a new album that isn’t even out until September? Furthermore, they bother only to introduce one of these, the magnificent “Hold On For Dear Life” and the audience laps it up with such fervour that it’s tempting to think they might have held a discussion on the European Referendum and gone down just as well.

To understand why the reaction is quite what it is, you need to go back a couple of years to the incredible “Something Supernatural”. Put simply, one of the best records of the decade so far, and the stuff they play from it, such as “Skull Of Geronimo”, “La Mano De Lucifer”, and the all out funky strut of “Chupacabra” proves why.

But it’s more than that. It’s the fact that Crobot are arguably better live. Yeagley is a wonderful rock n roll frontman, extrovert, yet totally natural, when he gets up on guitarist Bishop’s shoulders, there’s nothing contrived or false about it, it’s just because he wants to.

Then there’s the not inconsiderable points that he’s got a brilliant voice – “Fly On The Wall” is reminiscent of Chris Cornell at his very, very best – and the band have more superb songs than is decent. The new stuff they play, including current single “Not For Sale” the slithering “Serpent Shepherd” and the outrageously good “Play It Cool” is reason enough to think that album of the year lists 2016 will be full of it.

It is with a debut album tune they conclude things, “Legend Of The Spaceborne Killer” is close to being a classic already, but this being Birmingham they encore – kinda, the confines of the stage mean they can’t actually leave – with Sabbath’s “The Wizard”, which segues neatly into their own “Night Of The Sacrifice”.

Job done, this is their third time in the West Midlands in the last 18 months or so, and so good are they already, you hesitate to venture any thoughts as to what they might be in the end. Crobot, whisper it a little quietly, might – along with a couple of other bands at their same stage of their career – be the future of rock n roll.

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