Not afraid to think outside the box, Blues Pills have released their second live album in only a few years. Not bad for a band with only two studio albums to their name, but the psychedelic free-flowing brand of blues that they play is tailor made for the live setting. Freed from the constraints of the studio, the band stretch out on the stage, with some of the songs taking on extra dimensions, so it seems only natural that a band so comfortable on stage would release not only another live album, but for the first time a live DVD/Blu-Ray, filmed in Paris during last year’s tour in support of their sophomore album. A memorable tour, not just because Kadavar were special guests, but mainly because it showcased a band coming into their own as headliners, capable of putting on a show in larger venues.
With no studio jiggery pokery, this is as “live” a live album that you are likely to hear anytime soon. No accusations of fixing the sound in the mix can be aimed at the young Sweden-based band. ‘Warts and all’ I believe the phrase is. What you do get however is an aural delight, the net result of learning their craft the hard way… by relentless touring. Considering there is no real production, Blues Pills are a very visual live band, mainly due to the shimmering, bare-footed whirlwind that is vocalist Elin Larsson, and the furious fretwork action from Dorian Sorriaux. The quiet, studious young guitarist might not throw the shapes like a traditional guitar hero, but by Christ he can play. Check out his free-flowing solos on ‘Bliss’, or the earthy licks that he brings on the extended version of ‘Little Boy Preacher’. Sublime, totally sublime. ‘Lady In Gold’ had way more fuzz than the debut album, and here the fuzz is ramped up, especially on ‘Little Boy Preacher’ and ‘Lady In Gold’. More fuzz than you can point a shitty stick at. Oh, and lashings and lashings of wah wah as well! It’s not just Larsson or Sorriaux that stand out though, the ferocity from drummer Andre Kvarnstrom is incredible (especially on ‘Won’t Go Back’), and bassist Zack Anderson lays down some serious grooves. With touring member Rickard Nygren adding some glorious keyboard action, this all makes for one funky, soulful party.
A mix of newer tracks from ‘Lady In Gold’ and fans favourites from the debut, ‘High Class Woman’ and ‘Devil Man’ both excel (as usual), and it’s great to hear the band spread out and jam. If you have caught the band live before, you’ll know that ‘Devil Man’ is introduced by vocal gymnastics from Larsson before the band slam in. The opposite side to her vocal prowess is there for all to see when she slows it right down for the beautiful ‘I Felt A Change’. Performed solo, just Larsson and a piano, it’s stripped back with no hiding place, a true goosebump moment. If The Stones are looking to add another young band to their impressive roster of bands to call upon to open a show, then Keef should give Blues Pills a call. That would be truly something magical.
Available now on multiple formats through Nuclear Blast. Blues Pills are also touring throughout November as special guests to Black Star Riders. All tour dates are available here.
Review: Dave Stott