The Glorious Sons came to my attention whilst visiting Alaska in March 2015. I kept hearing a song on the radio that I fell in love with, it always seemed to be played in between Pearl Jam and other 90’s metal so I presumed it was a band from that era that I missed out on. The radio station did not seem to have an online playlist so it took a while to find out the track was called “Heavy” and was from a modern band!
I eagerly hunted down an import copy of their debut album The Union. It is a little out of my usual genre comfort zones but I fell in love with it. The band hail from Kingston, Canada, and their lyrics are a gritty, hard-driving representation of life in their hometown. The Union straddles, rock, blues, indie, pop, southern rock and even maybe folk sensibilities. The band have been gaining momentum in Canada, seemingly selling out many gigs and in October released their second album Young Beauties and Fools. The sophomore album is probably a little more indie and laid back, great songs but the production is not to my taste.
I have often posted on the band Facebook page begging for UK releases for the albums and of course a visit to the UK. Well seems my prayers have now been answered, Earache Records have picked the band up for the UK/Europe (Young Beauties and Fools gets an official release here in February) and this showcase free gig in London was announced (A 3 date UK tour has now been booked for March 2018).
I decided to make the visit to London fearing that as I seem to be the only person in the UK that has heard of the band, that this might be the only time they visited! The venue seemed an odd choice, a bit of a hipster East End London pub. On arrival was full of businessmen and happening looking young people with jazz music the soundtrack of the evening! The upstairs venue was very small and intimate.
My fears of being the only fan were unfounded, there was a respectable turnout straddling all age ranges, and seemingly fans of many different genres. Judging from some of the accents it seemed a lot of Canadians had followed the band over to offer support on their first visit.
It took a bit of shuffling to fit all six members of the band onstage but undeterred they launched straight into the rocky, uplifting “Godless, Graceless and Young” from the new album, to a rapturous welcome from the eager crowd. The set focussed almost exclusively on the new album. Only “White Noise” made it from The Union (despite some very enthusiastic chanting and singing from some fans for crowd favorite “Lightening”).
Vocalist Brett Emmons is undoubtedly the main focus of the band. He is very charismatic, veering between whirling madman and vulnerable, enthralling storyteller. On the slower tracks like “Hide My Love”, he shows a really endearing vulnerability. He is probably one of my favorite vocalists of recent years, able to do gritty, bluesy, powerful and vulnerable with ease. Brett interacts with guitarist brother Jay and the other band members in a really sweet manner. He was also interactive and appreciative of the crowd’s enthusiasm. He was mostly a frenetic ball of energy, but nursing a bottle of Jamieson’s during his more exposed, storytelling moments.
Both band and crowd were very intense. None of the crowd seemed content to just nonchalantly watch. Everyone was either singing and dancing or in the case of a very vocal, enthusiastic, inebriated group of young gentlemen, enjoying a bit of moshing. In spite of the first album never having a UK release and the new album only being out a few weeks most of the crowd were enthusiastically singing every word, of every song.
Three-quarters of the way through the set we had a surprising cover of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You”, which worked really well and had the crowd jumping even more! This was closely followed by “White Noise” (with the crowd singing the chorus back to the band for a good few minutes) from the debut.
All too soon the set was brought to a close with “Kill The Lights” which was a single done in between the two albums (but oddly never put on the new album). They then left the stage like conquering heroes (in spite of the indignity of having to exit into the crowd to get off the stage).
I definitely had a feeling of being part of something special at this gig. Canadian fans on Facebook were very jealous of us having a rare opportunity of such a small and intimate gig. The new tracks sound fantastic live without the guitar production that, at the moment lets down the new album for me. Given the momentum of the band already in Canada and the fact that Earache seems to be really getting behind them and wanting to push them over here, I don’t think they will be a well-kept secret for much longer. It is going to be interesting to see how they are marketed here, as they don’t seem to comfortably fit in one particular genre. It is rare for me to get very excited over new bands these days but these guys have touched my soul in a pretty powerful way from the moment I first heard them, inspiring my first London visit in well over 15 years. Give them a try, you won’t regret it.
Decibel Geek Young Beauties and Fools (Album Review)