In an overheated Olympia, Rival Sons will have feverishly recalled the full extent of their stuff and their ambitions.
The oldest (and no less venerable) readers of this magazine perhaps still have in mind the advertising slogan of this oil company proposing in ancient times – 1965 all the same! – to its customers to put a tiger in their engine the moment they fill their tank. With Rival Sounds in 2023, the tigers come together and it is on the back stage curtain that they seem to be preparing to roar. Two as a direct reminder of the artworks of the double album salvo, Darkfighter And Lightbringerwhich the Californians – in short – will have given us in the space of a few months.
In more than one way, this double discographic salvo will have shown that Rival Sounds had not been champing at the bit for nothing because of this damn COVID, the only merit of which was to get the crew to rework their work several times, add this, refine that. With, in turn, an implacable observation: Rival Sounds is at the crossroads, of multiple paths, given his musical desires and ambitions.
If the pleasure of finding on stage a group which has continued over the years to show that this is its area of predilection could explain our motivation to rush into the long corridor leading to the lair of the Olympia , there was another, more “circumstantial” perhaps: observing how this “crossroads” would translate outside the padded walls of a studio, released into the open air – or electric of a full Olympia like an egg and boiling as desired. We will not have been disappointed.
Without being sure that the main stakeholders will find it entirely satisfactory, Rival Sounds is often seen as one of the best representatives of what some have found it wise to call modern classic rock. Because its field of action often crossed certain territories of the 70s, Led Zeppelin in the lead. So, of course, to see Jay Buchanan take his turn on vocal paths, in the groans as well as in the howls, recalling occasionally – but inevitably – Robert Plant, mane blowing in the wind like “the other”, it remains sometimes difficult to understand clear the parallel wave. Ditto for Scott Holiday, whose classy country-western outfits are also reminiscent, when he ventures via his guitar into some sonic unpacking with lots of effects (the solo on “Face the Light” notably).
But if it comes down to attaching Rival Sounds to any rock heritage, it would now be this form of freedom characterizing so much the live performances of the 70s, of desire not to just stick to what we had recorded on tape a few months previously. In a way, the Siamese brothers Darkfighter-Lightbringer – and what it means to portray them on stage – have ended up being a game-changer. We recently said about “Darkfighter” the song that Rival Sounds would almost single-handedly sum up the group’s desires for emancipation, summoning in turn Crosby, Stills and Nash, Led Zeppelin and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The remark could now be applied to almost an entire show by the boys, adding a few pinches of Allman Brothers into the bag (notably in this propensity to extend the outlines of this or that song to bring in others) .
More than ever, Rival Sounds is able to make his audience go through all the emotions (including the most heartbreaking with this version of “Shooting Stars” enhanced by a Buchanan solo and a single acoustic guitar as a weapon of massive persuasion). To take him on a great journey, still sometimes shaky due to lack of too much good will or the desire to do too well (in this same desire to lengthen his pieces sometimes). Certainly, no one knows what tomorrow is made of, starting with the group itself which wondered aloud a few months ago through Buchanan’s voice at the end of an interview when and how – and even if – a new album would be released. But Rival Sounds seems to have opened too many doors to let them close on their own. So see you soon.
- Do Your Worst
- Electric Man
- Open My Eyes.
- Sweet Life
- Pressure and Time
- Bird in the Hand
- Feral Roots
- Face of Light
- Shooting Stars
- Too Bad
- Keep On Swinging
Find this live report on Rival Sounds in our issue 158, available on newsstands and via our online store.