Special Guests to The Karma Effect at The Giffard Arms last Saturday were slick Peterborough ensemble Austin Gold. Applying a modern sheen to blues-influenced melodic rock, the classic elements were in abundance, from David James Smith’s powerful voice and dazzling frettery, Adam Leon’s lush Hammondesque keys, Lee Churchill’s fluid bass and the impelling presence of the dynamic James Pepper on the drums.
The Giffard Arms – 14 October 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: Neil Jackson
Despite its title, Brand New Low is a propulsive opener with an uplifting chorus. A definite mood setter which announces their arrival in a rousing style.
Roadside continued in a similar vein, its driving melody invoking the vibe of a modern American highway anthem. As it concluded, it evolved into a kind of jam, judging by the interaction between the guys.
The staccato riffed call and response of Another Kind Of Bad was firmly rooted in the blues. “Raise your glass in the air for the life you never had – trust in me when I say it’s another kind of bad,” the lyrics reinforce that feel.
With so many musical flavours, a hugely complementary interplay between David and Adam is a feature here and throughout. There was even a ‘Kashmiri’ flourish mid-way.
The contemporary melancholy of Before Dark Clouds was one of the set’s absolute highlights with David fully unleashing his soaring tones. This would not feel out of place on a Bonamassa album, and the term ‘instant classic’ is far from inappropriate. This was obviously a tried and tested set as the opening quartet were all culled from 2017’s excellent debut album of the same name. All killer so far.
The more forceful Caught On You was followed by Mountain which had a chorus as big as its title, the keys also ascending those elevated heights. Another number that steadily built to a climactic finish. “Think we have a sweaty drummer – He’s hot tonight!”
Cut & Run had a brisker, more instant commercial feel whilst losing none of those other characteristics.
“This is a number that’s quite topical with all that’s going on in the world. It’s about not losing faith in humanity.” White Lightning certainly developed from a broody restrained verse into a huge uplifting anthemic chorus then a headlong gallop down the home straight. A number deserving of a larger stage for sure.
One minor disappointment, at this point, was the omission of the total showstopper Home Ain’t Home from the set due to those all too common ‘time constraints’. On this form, I had a feeling its execution would even have surpassed Before Dark Clouds.
Never End returned to the vibe of the opening duo. I could detect the extensive Foo Fighters influence throughout, from the melody, impacting rhythm, and imploring vocals to the steamrollering momentum provided by drummer James.
Like Doomsday Outlaw’s Runaway in my previous report, the influence of Dave and the boys is not to be underestimated.
Inviting, not to mention trusting the audience to participate in the comparative complex singalong of the chorus, after some brief coaching, the involvement was better than may have been expected, as well as relatively tuneful.
A thoroughly ascending inclusive rock out to conclude a most stimulating set of absorbing tunes with addictive melodies presented in such a slick, dynamic manner.
I eagerly await seeing these guys again with their names on the ticket and appreciate so much more of their most impressive songbook.