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ConcertsWarrior Soul, The Swamp Born Assassins; Glasgow Audio 26th March 2018

Posted on Thursday, May 03 2018 @ 22:52:17 CDT by Steven Reid
Concert Reviews

Warrior Soul were the band who nearly made it. They opened for Metallica when they were at the peak of their powers, while making enough attitude soaked headlines to garner interest from beyond the usual rock n’ roll circles. And yet, like so many others, they allowed all of that to come undone through inter band wrangling, that thing called grunge (even though they were more political and current than any plaid shirt) and, if you believe the bullshit, rock star aspirations. Hence, tonight they were promoting a new album, Back On The Lash, in the Audio, one of Glasgow’s more compact venues. Alongside them were fast rising local heroes The Swamp Born Assassins, who not only opened the show, but appeared to pull in a sizeable portion of the crowd. Sea of Tranquility’s Steven Reid was amongst their number.

Photos David Jamieson

They do seem to be everywhere at the moment, The Swamp Born Assassins last crossing my path when they opened for The Kentucky Headhunters. In between they could also be found wooing new fans in the warm up slot for The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s ex-guitarist Zal Cleminson and his Sindogs. With forays to England, slots on the bill at national festivals and a little bit of notice coming their way from European internet radio (who said Belgium was boring??), not only are this band in demand, but they are also putting in plenty time honing their craft and paying their dues. All aspects which have brought The Swampers a loyal following that appear wherever they play and greets their every move with well deserved enthusiasm.

With their debut album, Smell The Mud, now a few months behind them, the likes of “Crawl” and “Dead Man Walking” are beginning to have a welcome, lived in feel that suits this band’s dirty, hard rocking, hard riffing blues to a tee. Operating as a six piece for quite some time, these deadly Assassins have a variety of secret weapons, with the clever use of backing vocals bolstering the attack of charismatic frontman Charlie Moffat; the shades wearing, top hat totting, denim waistcoat adorned singer just as adept at throwing down a harmonica solo as he is howling out the chant-along choruses of “Never Ever Never” and “Gator Hole”. Although it’s the manner in which he combines vocally with his daughter Kirsty (or Clara Bell Lee as Charlie introduces her, after the pair have performed the song of the same name) that provides the real vocal highlights. With the twin guitar attack of rhythm man (and Charlie’s son) Jamie Moffat and lead fret burner Andy Christie locked in tight, the sparks really fly. However, underpinned by the rock solid drumming of Stevie Craven, it’s possibly bassist Allen Bell who surprisingly steals the show; the sheer musicality of what he brings TSBA invaluable whether they are knocking out a gargantuan groove, or a rip roaring rocker. Impressively, the best two moments of a show packed with highlights were the two new numbers, both “Crank It Up” and “Wildfire” adding an uptempo boost to the swampy barnstormers of old. Unusually for a local opening band, The Swamp Born Assassins were given a strong sound and almost an hour on stage. Fair to suggest they didn’t waste it. Roll on album number two!

What with Warrior Soul having been, for quite some time now, Kory Clarke and whoever he’s hired to stand alongside him, there was a genuine worry that this act would fail to match what had been an impressive opening hour. However, from the off it was clear that Kory was fired up and in full ‘fuck you’ mode. His band, featuring the rhythm duo of bassist Christian Kimmett and drummer Michael Branagh alongside guitarist Full Throttle, may clearly be playing second fiddle to the frontman, but the opening salvo of “American Idol” and “I Get Fucked Up” from new album Back On The Lash (which on tonight’s evidence is about as deep lyrically as that name suggests) hit like a steam train; Clarke bringing a level of attitude that, to be honest, you seldom see in a half full venue of this size. And from there he and his band pretty much hit it out of the park, even if it wasn’t completely plain sailing all the way. With a constant stream of middle finger Tourettes the singer prowled the stage, eventually removing his blue tinted shades to reveal eyes that look like they haven’t seen daylight for a couple of decades, before swigging from the cans of beer at the front of the stage and the bottle of vodka at the rear. And while his own performance never dipped as “Generation Graveyard”, “Ghetto Nation” or “Punk And Belligerent” overflowed with attitude and melodic aggression, so his approach to his band mates veered from chastising Kimmett on bass for, well I’m not quite sure what and physically dragging Full Throttle to the front of the stage (more than once) when he was mid-solo, to literally kissing and making up through hugs and smiles… his boys simply got on with the job. My mate’s observation that Kory “must be hard work to be in a band with” difficult to argue against.

In truth, even though the set is pulled from albums released as far apart as 1990 to 2017, the similarity of everything on show and Kory’s clearly tortured voice (gravely doesn’t begin to cover it, although his sheer force of will more than gets him through) did cause things to lull mid-set ever so slightly, but when you can pull out underrated classics of the calibre of “Love Is The Drug” and “Payback’s A Bitch”, then no one’s going to be complaining for too long. Warrior Soul are not alone in being a ‘band’ that’s really a frontman and some hired hands; in fact for groups from the era this lot originate from it’s become something of an epidemic. However in Kory Clarke this incarnation of Warrior Soul still have a frontman with enough ‘rock-star’ to fill two bands. It’s his outfit’s main stumbling block and their main weapon.

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