Brave Rival photo credit: Paul May


Brave Rival Get Braver Still: Live at Elizabeth Hall, Hook

Influenced by Aretha Franklin, Heart, Fleetwood Mac and, of course, Tina Turner, we’ve described British five-piece blues-rock ‘n’ soul double-fronted female ensemble BRAVE RIVAL as: a multi-dimensional experience… and now the band have (at last) held their much-anticipated swanky launch party for the dazzling debut studio album, “Life’s Machine” (rated 5★ by RAW RAMP)

 a firestorm of emotion & unrestrained excandescence…

Raw Ramp Music Magazine

Supported by the incredible wowness of Amba Tremain at the awesomazing Echo Hotel Music Club, in Hook, Hampshire, all the band’s families, supporters, mega-fans and an assortment of music industry professionals assembled at the excellent Elizabeth Hall for a massive show of theatre, ability, entertainment and performance.

The band comprises singers Lindsey Bonnick and Chloe Dixon, with Ed “The Shred” Clarke on guitar, the uncommonly versatile Donna Peters on drums, and the legendary Billy Dedman on bass. But after Amba and her talented ensemble had put on a dazzling opening act, the brave rivalists became a temporary sextet when joined by Paul Quinn (on keyboards) for “Guilty Love”.

This song of remorse & self-reproach was, of course, voluminous, with voltaic vocal combustion from both lead singers… but the number also provided slick rhythms, concise bass notes, and energetic guitar work, and this combination of musical flavouring enhanced the jaw-dropping number and pushed it into the realm of super-hotness. (It used to be our favourite BR number, by the way, until we heard the title song from the album, Life’s Machine.)

Ed 'The Shred' Clarke on guitar - photo credit:  Paul May

We are here to turn the sass up,” shouted Chloe. And it’s true, the girls channeled Aretha: “All you can do is give all you got!

The slow-paced, heart-shaped croon “Long Time Coming” expanded into a firestorm of emotion and unrestrained excandescence. Lindsey’s pseudo-silk kimono captivated under Hook’s bright lights, while Chloe captured the heartswell of the moment with drama of her own, surrendering to the output of her emotions by throwing shapes across the stage.

The Bravian Choir added capacity and motivating force to this ever-moving number, made even more melancholic because family members of the musicians were in the auditorium. For many (even mums and dads) and because of Covid restrictions, this was the first time they had witnessed their progeny in concert. So, yes, it was practically a religious experience!

Chloe Brave Rival photo credit Paul May
Chloe captured the heartswell of the moment… photo Paul May

As Chloe accurately explained, topping this incredible and long-awaited spectacular-spectacular would be a “Come Down” (effectively foretold!) So the song that corresponded with this sentiment was like a saucer of eels on the burner, sizzling, sliding elegantly, and blistering hot. Ed’s heated guitar work was nuanced and perceptive. The girls’ articulations intertwined with each other, bringing passionary florescences of unconfined redemption.

This memorable concert even incorporated an ‘unplugged’ segment with drummer Donna on acoustic guitar (centre stage) bracketed by her smokin’ hot bandmates. Oh lordy, this was a fine idea. It meant we, the audience, could concentrate on the cadenced quality of their work and the embodied craft of their superior musicianship. But, by then, Chloe’s voice had all but ‘faded ’ and she could only contribute husky tones: her role in the band is to bring mezzo-soprano Ariana Grande-like highs to Lindsey’s Cher-like spicy lows, so this was the dramatic goose-bumping closing spectacle to a remarkable evening of high-drama.

Lindsey Brave Rival photo credit Paul May
Lindsey’s pseudo-silk kimono captivated under Hook’s bright lights… photo Paul May

Of course, this show, this celebration, this moment, this meeting, this union… everything about it (even the album release, put back time-after-time) has been a “Long Time Coming.” Our hearts have (all) been aching to get back to live music. In less competent hands, their song “Long Time Coming” might have been a schmaltzy affair… but you don’t get hokey with Brave Rival! Oh no! You get profound and meaningful guitar-driven soul. So the band turned this piece into a magnificent slice of drama! And that’s the overall impression of the evening: Bravery. Selflessness. Dedication.

File alongside Tango in the Night era Fleetwood Mac or Little Queen era Heart

Words: @neilmach 2022 ©
Pictures: Paul May 2022 ©

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