One of Britain’s new wave of classic rock Hollowstar came to Edinburgh to play Bannerman’s Bar on a Wednesday night. A very healthy crowd turned up to catch these young lads from down south of England and weren’t disappointed as the guys put on a hell of an impressive live performance. This was no mean feat having played about 7 shows in 8 days whilst traipsing around the UK on their holidays from their day jobs! Oh, the glamour of the rock n roll lifestyle! Vocalist Joe Bonson in an interview given to Decibel Geek before the show did say not to jump to conclusions when it comes to his vocal prowess till I personally had seen the show as he doesn’t hold back onstage and this was the last night. I can honestly say that if this is how good he is when knackered, then early on the tour he must be truly outstanding.
They played all 10 tracks from their self titled debut album (not in order of course) a couple from their EP Some Things Matter and one cover in the set. The pacing was very good with ebb and flow, rockier moments interspersed with more mellow moments to keep it all interesting for the crowd and allowing pacing for themselves too. In Joe they have an impressive frontman and singer, the band are solid and tight throughout with both guitarists Phil Haines and Tom Collett playing some classy solos with Phil being like an extra frontman, prowling the stage, throwing shapes and making lots of faces and eye contact with the audience and being a strong focal point. Drummer Jack Bonson (brother of vocalist/bassist) kept everything together, pounding the drums and grinning away (at least whenever I looked he seemed to be smiling).
The opener to the show was album opener “Take It All” which has a tad of an AC/DC “Thunderstruck” about it before it kicks in properly. It allows the band to settle in and find their feet. It also kicks nicely warming the crowd up immediately. On “Down By The Water” they go all southern rock, almost outdoing the Americans at their own game. The vocals on this are quite husky, and in Bannerman’s they were even more husky with it being the last night. I thought it still sounded great. It made me think of Black Stone Cherry a tad.
“Lay Down” was the first track from the EP that they played. It grooved beautifully. I could see folks moving along with it in the crowd. It is a quite a sexy type song, very danceable, with a huge chorus (like many of their tracks they know how to write an infectious chorus).
Between some of the songs, Joe chatted with the audience. Before “Invincible” he mentioned they had actually had stayed upstairs in the flat above the venue the night before (they drove up from Cambridge on the Tuesday, around 350 miles to play Edinburgh) and had gone out to find themselves in a bar just up the road watching a band that came on at 2 am. He called Edinburgh a city that never sleeps. He had a point. The song itself has a bloody marvelous riff that kicks in after the choruses that sounded fantastic live. This is a slightly faster almost metallic track and one of their heaviest songs. Another heavier one is the politically inspired song “Money” which is all about greed, mixed with a touch of warfare and corruption and features a groovy riff during the chorus.
Joe again chatted between songs saying how “Edinburgh is the most beautiful of cities” to which we all cheered. He brought us all down to earth by remarking “Why are you cheering? It is fuck all to do with you, it has been here for years” causing laughs and more cheers.
“Feel The Burn” was dedicated to the guys in Mason Hill (great band who hail from Glasgow) who there were some members of in the room and who they had performed with before and are obviously friends with. Joe kindly requested that they release a new album with the word “please” being added. This is one of the slower songs and taken from their original EP. Their version of “Wishing Well” was more in the style and attitude of Gary Moore‘sversion rather than the original Free track. It rocked away and they looked to be having a ball playing it.
Before “Sinner” Joe announced they were playing “Down By The Water” only to be reminded by the rest of the guys that they had already played that as the second song! As you can imagine there was quite a bit of laughter and taking the Michael going on. Well it was the last night of a long string of dates!
One of my favorite songs was played second last, that being “Good Man Gone” which is about the loss of a friend due to depression, an awful disease which more should be done to help those suffering. The raw emotion and hurt came through on this. Joe explained about both dedications on the album beforehand so we understood more about the song. For me this song especially shows the quality of thought and songwriting skills that they have, they can write songs that have real substance.
All the people I spoke with afterwards were full of praise and seemed to be of agreement that this was a great gig and this is a band that should (with any justice) become much much bigger. They have the songs, the personality and the stagecraft along with a great attitude to draw folks in and give them a rocking night.
Making sure we all had a great night we were also treated to 2 very fine supports which I will briefly mention before I finish this review. Firstly main support (for the whole tour) Florence Black a 3 piece stoner and groove outfit from Wales. They also had a bit of a grunge feel at points, but that could be due to the singers slight Eddie Vedder inflection. They did a fine version of “Breadfan” the old Budgie song made more famous in recent history by Metallica. I liked this version on the night as it was more similar to the original, not just heavied up and blasted out. The feel was there. Good work in my opinion. There was a laugh when vocalist Tristan talked and beer and hash then couldn’t work out what was next.
The King Lot opened the night. This 3 piece from Wes Lothian (near Edinburgh) play melodic rock, although in the last couple of times I have seen them they sound a tad heavier/beefed up which I love. “A World Without Evil” rocked hard and featured some very fine soloing. They had 30 minutes and didn’t waste a second of it. They certainly got everyone going (and were popular enough that folks got there early enough, on the whole, to make it a healthy crowd at 8:15pm).
Great night in Bannerman’s Bar, with 3 bands of good quality rocking the shit out of a Wednesday night!
Look out for my exclusive interview with the band coming soon.