Have you ever savored the turbulent vocalizations of Tina Turner yet wanted her numbers to burn with the same propelling impulse as BONNIE RAITT’S? Or did you ever look to the upsurging passion of nu-soul but wished it came with more razzle-dazzle? Have you found that modern blues-rock has lost some of its characteristic chutzpah of late? Well, we think we’ve discovered the elixir for your sonorific dreams. They’re a Hampshire band called BRAVE RIVAL.
Yeah, this five-piece UK double-female-fronted, blues-rock ‘n’ soul outfit have successfully moved from an old cabaret-style showcase format to a more rock-based formula over the last year. You should see them now! Their show is a theatrical experience filled with bravery and artistic merit. We witnessed it full-on this weekend at the wonderful Echo Hotel music club in Hook, Hampshire, where the young band played their first ever headline concert. The show was also a Live Album Recording.
The elegant, red lip / red hip, flame-enchantress is Lindsey Bonnick. She is a warm and lustful dramatic contralto and offers lots of low, low, vocal weight. Her solo pieces move from heart-pumping drone to liquid Häagen-Dazs in an eyeblink.
While Chloe Dixon is like an energetic Alanis Morissette on skates and moves from mezzo-soprano (Ariana Grande) to the tallest falsetto you can imagine (Minnie Ripperton) with the supersaturated energy of a man-eating leopard that has not eaten for a week and with the facial contortions of a knicker-twisted weightlifter who just won the national gurning championship.
Together they make the gutsiest/creamiest zabaglione you’ve ever heard. And all this is accompanied by a continuous, sulfuric riff from Ed “The Shred” Clarke on guitar and with powerhouse rhythms from Donna Peters (drums) and Billy Dedman (on bass.) The effect is like being thrown headfirst into a cement mixer with brandy butter, tequila-flavoured ice-cubes and handfuls of sand and sawdust. It’s a multidimensional experience: sweet, sour, tall, short, light and dark. It is a tumble into incredible-ness.
The show began with “On The Table” which was a slow-build penthouse of unleashed passions with a vocal from Lindsey which sounded sort-of Annie Lennoxy. It’s a good number to begin a show with because it proves the band has the chemicals and aims to deliver them in style.
The second number, “Heart Attack” was fatter. Like a bull playing in an inflatable castle. It was a thing of gummy joy. And this number was helped along by a slapping-good bass and some joyous rhythmic thumping. The hook was a sexy wiggle… a timely tug of braided guitar that laced the whole thing together.
“Without You” was dedicated to John and we were asked to imagine what life would be like without that special person in it. “Whenever you fall… I’ll catch you.” The chunky chord structure had a downwardly dip to it. This was poignant.
“Before I Knew You” (dedicated to Barnaby) was sweet as red velvet cake yet had bittersweet moments. It was delivered long and smooth, with a neat sprinkle of intoxicating guitar. And “Change Gonna Come” was a song that Chloe plays when she’s out busking. “Sometimes I can’t afford the parking money…” she told the audience. “So I sing this on the street and I know that change is a-coming…”
Then “Martynna” — which was a concert clapper and an unfurled wrapper. (Who wouldn’t want to be Martynna, we wonder.) This was followed by the Albany Down number, Mr. Hangman.
“Come Down” was a concert highlight. This was like an old mama gator who goes down to the swamp, to hunt one last time. There was something panting and desperate about this song, as if it had a wicked gleam in its eye and danger on its breath… there was also pain and despair in the moonlight. Excellent!
After a potpourri of a mash-up and a jam that was Hendrixy in a shimmery, sweetly-addictive way (Band of Gypsys era), we reached the pensive “Long Time Coming” that has one wow! of a chorus.
Brave Rival proved to be a “gotta see” package with slick commercial appeal. If there’s any justice, their debut album should be a chart-buster.
File alongside: Never the Bride
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Big thanks to the volunteers at Echo Hotel for putting-on such a great night!
Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2020 ©