RIVAL SONS @ Electric Ballroom

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Rival Sons @ Electric Ballroom, Camden

1st October 2012

Review by Anna Dumpe

Photography by Sabrina Dersel

Tonight is going be a busy night at the Electric Ballroom as Rival Sons, one of the hottest new rock’n’roll bands from LA, have rolled in the town. The queue outside the venue remains long, while the bar area inside is already crowded as the first band Pint Size Hero hit the stage. They do not seem to attract too much attention as everyone seems focused on what the bar offers tonight.

Unfortunately we were too late to see the opening support band, but it’s not long till the second band; Ulysses hit the stage looking and sounding very retro.

They remind me of a band coming straight from the post-hippie boogie era, but still sounding fresh and entertaining enough.

It is happy rock’n’roll with blues and psychedelic elements and such songs like “Eye on You” seem to get the crowd going.

Their performance could easily be happening 50 years ago on the stage of Top of the Pops and their fashion stylist must be the same person who once took care of bands like Cream and Steppenwolf.

Tonight will go down is history as a special night for Rival Sons.

It is the last show of their 9-date headline tour around UK and to make the occasion even more special, Bob Harris, the legendary British music presenter, is here to announce the start of the show. And if that is not enough to start a ball, even Jimmy Page himself has honoured the band with his presence to put slightly more pressure on the band’s performance. 

2012 has definitely been a busy year for these four gentlemen of Rival Sons coming from Los Angeles as they have intensively worked on the new material, recorded their 3rd album Head Down and now are out on the road to promote it.

After plenty of festival and solo appearances and a sold-out UK tour as the main support band for Black Stone Cherry, the UK audience is more or less familiar with Rival Sons music and tonight is a proof that they have been accepted within the UK’s rock music market. Electric Ballroom is packed out and everyone is here to experience something different and exciting. Something that is not yet another rock’n’roll band.

After the release of their second studio album Pressure and Time, Rival Sons were persistently compared to Led Zeppelin in the way they sound, in the way they dress and in the way they are. With the release of Head Down they seem to have discovered their own unique sound and approach to song-writing. Still, there are plenty of influences rambling through the new material, but all the talks on “You sound too much like this or that” have been left in the past.


Tonight the band appears on stage with a great sense of style and they open the show with “Keep on Swinging”- the first single of their new album. It’s a groovy and catchy tune to greet the excited audience that seem to have done their homework and listened to the new album before. “Keep on Swinging” goes down as a classic track.

Rival Sons dedicate the first part of the show to introduce Head Down as they play the first eight songs in the right order from the album. Songs that easily get the crowd going and stand out are “Until the Sun Goes Down” and “All The Way” that is a combination of bluesy gospel-like melodies and an unstoppable sexual energy. Another song to note is “Jordan”, which is one of those blues and soul-drenched songs that somehow seem a bit more special to the musicians themselves, as it is about their emotional experiences. Every single musician on stage seems to put their heart and soul into the performance and it all comes around as a great appreciation from the crowd.

All eyes are on Jay Buchanan, Rival Sons front-man, who’s got the swagger of Robert Plant, the voice of Glenn Hughes and the charisma of Jim Morrison. His stage presence is electrifying and works in a perfect harmony with other band members. His vocal capabilities seem boundless throughout the whole set and it is safe to say that he is possibly one of the best rock singers around.

The band is on fire tonight. There’s not much talking as they fire out song after song and every single one sounds killer. Songs like “Tell me Something” and “Memphis Sun” please those who have followed Rival Sons artistic development since their debut album Before the Fire was self-released in 2009.

But still, the greatest reaction from the crowd is received when Rival Sons perform such classic songs as “Get What’s Coming”, “Pressure and Time” and “Face of Light”. These songs were the ones to present Rival Sons to wider audience and defined their sound and character. Tonight’s performance is imbued with emotions and is an experience for everyone in the crowd.


After the show I find myself  involved in a conversation between two Rival Sons fans and it somehow sums up everything that the band has tried to achieve with tonight’s performance and the new album. The conversation goes, A: “With the new album Head Down, Rival Sons sound more like a 60’s rock’n’roll band!” B: “No, man… With the new album they sound more like Rival Sons themselves!” …and we sure agree!


Keep on Swinging

Wild Animal

You Want To

Until the Sun Comes

Run From Revelation


All The Way

The Heist

Tell Me Something

Memphis Sun

I’m On My Way

Get What’s Coming


All Over the Road

Young Love

Pressure and Time

Face of Light

Manifest Destiny #1

Manifest Destiny #2