Artist: Jared James Nichols, DeWolff, Doomsday Outlaw
Venue: London, The Dome
Date: 12 October 2023
"It was the perfect way to end the evening and I doubt that a single member of the audience left disappointed. Classic Rock was very much alive and well in North London tonight."
The opening act of the night were Doomsday Outlaw. A band that have come a long way in their eight-year journey. Singer Phil Poole is not only a charismatic stage performer, but also a man blessed with a deep soulful voice, and a vocal range that enables him to make a melody soar when called upon. The twin guitar attack of Alez D Elia and Rowan O Sullivan have contrasting styles but the combination works extremely well. The line-up is completed by the powerhouse rhythm section of Nic Rudd on drums & Indy Chanda on bass who provide the solid foundation needed for music that is built around crunching guitar riffs. Visually they are very eclectic with obvious influences from the seventies, eighties & nineties all mixed together into something cool and current. But this isn’t a band built on image alone. The quality of the song writing is their real strength. Performing a set that featured tracks from all three of their albums, the older songs like ‘In Too Deep’, ‘If This Is The End’ & ‘Bring The Pain’ sat comfortably next to ‘Turn Me Loose’, ‘One More Sip’ and ‘Runaway’ all which are taken from their latest release ‘Damaged Goods’. On a cramped stage with minimal lights they stormed their way through thirty minutes of pure Rock & Roll to an enthusiastic audience and gave us the perfect start to the evening.
Second up were DeWolff. I must confess that until this evening I knew absolutely nothing about this band. But within sixty seconds it was evident that they were something very special indeed. Luka Van De Poel, drummer & vocalist, has a groove to his playing that is instantly infectious. Imagine someone with the subtlety and touch of Ian Paice, the power of John Bonham and the spontaneity of Ginger Baker all inside the body of someone you would expect to see on the cover of a fashion magazine. His brother Pablo Van De Poel is not only a natural born singer and engaging frontman, but also a fantastic and fluid guitar player, effortlessly pulling out bluesy guitar licks and solos throughout the entire show. Robin Piso on Hammond organ & keyboards is as gifted as his bandmates. The virtuosity of his playing is breathtakingly spectacular. But as skilful as these three musicians are individually, it’s the combination of their talents that makes them so unique. After a little research I discovered that they had all been playing music together for over fifteen years and the chemistry between them is undeniable. Musically and visually they draw heavily from the psychedelia era of the seventies, but they have a look and a sound that makes them completely relevant in 2023. The first song of their forty-five minute set, ‘Heart Stopping Kind Of Show’, was an open invitation to the audience to climb aboard and join them on a musical journey. Within moments we had all become willing passengers. I can only describe what followed as a joyride that I didn’t want to end. The groove of songs like ‘Yes You Do’ and ‘Night Train’ will have you dancing like a fool with reckless abandonment. Their compositions are cleverly constructed in a way that allows them to combine catchy pop melodies with classic Rock & Roll arrangements, interspersed with segments of supreme musicianship. Like true professionals they controlled the ebb and flow of their performance and had the audience in the palm of their hand throughout. You could put this band in any bar or club in the world and I suspect they would win over even the toughest crowd, but they really deserve to be playing stadiums and I hope that one day I see them doing so.
DeWolff had been so good that it felt like I had already seen the headline act and it did make me wonder how Jared James Nichols was going to fair against such stiff competition. But cometh the hour cometh the man. He hit the stage like a Viking warrior descending from a long boat about to sack and pillage an unsuspecting village. The American frontman has incredible physical presence and stands upon the stage as if he owns it. Armed with a Les Paul he ferociously tore into the opening song ‘Easy Come Easy Go’, well and truly staking his claim to the spoils of the night. He is an absolutely phenomenal guitar player and has a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal. Phenomenal power, breathtaking speed, subtlety in his touch, a great sense rhythm, and his choice of note is always the right one. On top of this he is a great singer with a powerful voice that matches his guitar playing perfectly. He is the full package and the real deal. There isn’t one single moment in the entire set where he isn’t in total control of his band or the audience.
Musically he descends from the same blood line as Leslie West, Ted Nugent & Zakk Wylde, but he has created his own instantly identifiable signature. The songs tend to be built around a heavy, bluesy guitar riff brimming with groove & swagger, complimented by a top line vocal melody filled with emotion and passion. A tried, tested and much-loved formula. Nichols is a man who is obviously dedicated to his craft and knows his Rock history inside and out. When you have such a dominating and forceful entity onstage you have to be supported by musicians of equal statue and ability or the whole thing would very quickly fall apart. In Louis Collins (bass) and Ryan Rice (drums) you have a monstrous rhythm section that reinforces the frontman’s extraordinary talents. Collins is also an adept stage performer who interacts well with the audience and is the perfect foil for the charismatic Mr Nichols. They are unquestionably one of the best Power Rock trios I have ever seen. Musical highlights of their set would be the Beatles-esque ‘Down The Drain’, and ‘Skin ‘N Bone’, a song that allowed the singer to deliver a vocal reminiscent of Chris Cornell in his Soundgarden days. But the icing on the cake was an electrifying version of the Black Sabbath Classic ‘War Pigs’. It was the perfect way to end the evening and I doubt that a single member of the audience left disappointed. Classic Rock was very much alive and well in North London tonight.
Review & Photos: Myke Gray