As if the Kris Barras Band wasn’t enough of a draw we also got Wille And The Bandits which was a real bonus. Wille And The Bandits certainly added to their ever increasing fan base with a short 30 minute explosive support slot which, in the main, included numbers from the impressive Paths album released earlier this year.
Wille Edwards has very recently announced that his long-standing bandmates, Matt Brooks (Bass) and Andrew Naumann (Drums) will be leaving the band following the fulfilment of this years commitments. Matt Brooks is currently taking time out anyway following the birth of a new born and to compensate they have become a four piece with Jacob Cocheck (keyboards) and Harry MacKaill (Bass).
The stunning Four Million Days was perhaps the highlight, with Wille Edwards showcasing his wonderful vocal range together his masterful lap-steel guitar playing. This was only their seventh gig as a four piece and everything looks very promising for the future. Just when you thought this band couldn’t get any better the added element of keyboards is the icing on the cake. The set is brought to a close with the powerful Bad News from the previous album Steal.
The Kris Barras Band is certainly one of the UK’s fastest rising acts. Kris formed the band in 2014 following a successful 10 year career as a professional MMA (mixed martial arts) cage fighter. I couldn’t pin a better description on the man and his band other than what’s already been said ‘One of the UK’s finest blues-rock guitarists: The band’s southern, blues-rock sound encompasses dirty riffs, raw, husky vocals and screaming guitar solos’.
Josiah J Manning (Keyboards), Elliott Blackler (Bass), Billy Hammett (Drums) and Alex Hart with Phoebe Jane (Vocals) take up position. Kris Barras, fine toned body adorned with tattoos, Lynyrd Skynyrd vest steps up to his bespoke bike chain mic stand and kicks straight in with the title track from new release Ignite (Light It Up) which certainly does what it says on the tin, a real rocker to set this evening’s tone.
Half of the set list showcased the new album on the prestigious Mascot / Provogue label, this was the Light It Up tour after all so no surprise. Next up was such and Counterfeit People, a song we can all relate to I’m sure, smiles on the outside but rotten within….ring any bells?
Rock ’n’ Roll Running Through My Veins is a true reflection of a man who was handed a guitar when five years old, played in his Father’s covers band aged ten and was not only influenced by his Father but from his Father’s record collection.
A couple more high tempo numbers before they bring it down with the country feel of Rain which features some nice keyboard from Josiah J Manning and beautiful backing vocals from Alex Hart and Phoebe Jane. Strangely enough Alex Hart provided backing vocals on Wille And The Bandits latest release…..coincidence or what?, and Josiah J Manning recorded and mixed it.
Vegas Sun, one of two songs with reference to his earlier professional fighting career, as he did spend a fair bit of time in Vegas and is very familiar with the mentality evident in the worlds biggest playground. This number gave licence to new recruit, Billy Hammett, to give us a powerful drum solo. The other number inspired by his fighting career, Broken Teeth, say no more.
I have seen Kris many times over the past three years and the mainstay in his set list is a very moving song he wrote in memory of his Father. Watching Over Me is a tribute to a man who was a great influence, a great supporter during both Kris’s boxing days and developing musical career. Unfortunately he was taken from this life too soon, very quickly and never got to see Kris reach his full potential.
An artist that only relies on self penned numbers during the main set should be applauded and Hail Mary, a true rock and roll anthem, was always favourite to bring set to a close. The packed audience excelled in joining Kris in the chorus.
Kris gave us his all during this performance despite being not 100%, his poor health had forced him to reluctantly cancel a show earlier in the week but he was never going to cancel a London show.
Poor health or not, Kris returned for two encores, Lovers Or Losers and his one cover on the night Going Down – Don Nix favourite encore number made famous by Freddie King – Kris leaving vocal duty to Alex Hart and she really let loose.
Kris played through the pain but he was so shot after the gig he couldn’t make the merch desk post gig. All that know Kris will know how much he enjoys meeting everyone after a show to chat and pose for selfies. We can all forgive him on this occasion.
Photography and live review of The Kris Barras Band at O2 Academy Islington on Friday 18th October 2019 by Phil Honley. Phil has his own photography site here: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk