British Lion / Steve Harris Makes Historic Cart & Horses Return

With a sound as wide as the horizon and as epic as any Hollywood blockbuster, British Lion could be playing stadiums worldwide. Whilst doubtlessly enjoying that aspect of his life with Iron Maiden, Steve Harris is a man who loves to see the white in the eyes of his audience. That connection can only come with much more intimate gigs. They don’t come much more up close and personal than the Cart & Horses, the birthplace of Iron Maiden.

British Lion – Cart & Horses – 4 January 2024

Words: Paul Monkhouse

Photography: Steve Ritchie

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

A historic venue in the musical journey of Steve Harris, the room in the basement of The Cart & Horses is packed on the second of three nights. The faithful are wall to wall and ready to soak up every note and glisten of sweat.

Whilst the lure of seeing the driving force of one of the biggest bands in Heavy Metal play in small venues initially brought the curious in, British Lion have more than proved themselves as their own entity beyond their legendary bass player.

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

With a commitment to touring that was seemingly left in the halcyon days of the ’80s, the band have a regular fixture the length and breadth of the country, doing things the hard way. Alongside Harris, singer Richard Taylor, drummer Simon Dawson, and guitarists Grahame Leslie and David Hawkins show that British Lion are most definitely a unit, each playing their own vital part in the band’s sound.

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

Putting a seal on this band of brothers, 2000’s sophomore The Burning showed just what the outfit were capable of, the album full of bristling rock anthems and heart. What was once seen as the bassist’s solo project was undoubtedly changed at this point, and their commitment to getting out there and playing shows cemented British Lion’s own identity.

Hella Rock Festival

This is My God is the perfect adrenaline-soaked widescreen set opener, its canyon deep groove and twisting fretwork allowing Taylor to bring his impassioned vocals to the fore. Lift-off is achieved.

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

With the chant along to Judas and the pugilistic flurry of Lost Worlds, there’s an all-consuming rush that can only be truly experienced at intimate shows like this, every note mattering. To see this so closely connects with the primal power of music to bring every soul together.

At moments like these, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the whole, and that ability is something that British Lion has somehow keyed into perfectly.

Beyond this, though, the key factor to the success of the band is the relatability of the lyrics, and whilst the songs themselves boast massive vistas, it’s the words that are the very human soul at the centre. As a prime example, The Burning boasts a propulsive rhythm and Harris’s galloping bass lines, but the battle cry into the unknown is the thing that stirs the blood, the lyrics cutting deep but providing hope.

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

If the emotions are universal and manage to touch every soul here, the anthemic quality of Legend and The Chosen Ones provide a Springsteen-ish thrill, the hooks impossible to resist. The Celtic feel to Spit Fire brings to mind Thin Lizzy at their most virile.

As well as old favourites, there was the chance to reveal new material, and given the strength of 2000 Years, a potentially forthcoming album number three is shaping up to be another huge step forward for the band.

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

There’s certainly confidence here, and with Dawson bringing a real swing with his powerful playing and the rapier thrust of Leslie and Hawkin’s guitars, the music talks for itself.

Despite the stadium-conquering presence of Harris, there is a real sense that British Lion are so taken to the hearts of everyone who sees or hears them due to the perception that they embody all that’s loved about the underdog. This isn’t to say that they embody the down-at-heel little person shouting to be heard, but more so that there’s a fighting spirit here that has been so key in so many victories against overwhelming odds.

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

What we see at The Cart & Horses tonight is a commitment to every person who’s ever bought an album, ticket or t-shirt to give 100% and every mile travelled, every drop of blood and sweat shed or note played a bond.

A rallying cry, Us Against The World is a statement of defiance and strength, a whisper here that can bring down cities. Uplifting, universal and unbeatable, British Lion are changing lives.

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

january

03jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | London ** SOLD OUT **Cart And Horses

04jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | London ** SOLD OUT **Cart And Horses

05jan9:00 amBritish Lion | Milton KeynesCraufurd Arms

06jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | BradfordNightrain

07jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | LiverpoolFurnace

09jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | AberdeenLemon Tree

10jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | EdinburghLiquid Rooms

12jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | CarlisleBrickyard

13jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | ColchesterArts Centre

14jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | MargateBallroom

16jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | Merthyr TydfilRedhouse Cymru

17jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | FromeCheese & Grain

18jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | BournemouthOld Fire Station

20jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | Isle Of WightStrings Bar & Venue

21jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | GravesendLeo's Red Lion

22jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | SouthendChinnerys

23jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | HastingsBlack Box

24jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | London ** SOLD OUT **Cart And Horses

Keep up to date with everything at The Cart & Horse in The MetalTalk Venues series. Each month, we speak with a venue owner or promoter to highlight the work they do for the Heavy Metal community. You can read the introduction pieces for The Cart & Horses here

The MetalTalk Cart & Horses Page can be seen here. For even more info, visit cartandhorses.london.

British Lion - Cart & Horses, Stratford - 4 January 2024
British Lion – Cart & Horses, Stratford – 4 January 2024. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

British Lion – Cart & Horses – Setlist

This Is My God

Judas

Father Lucifer

Lost Worlds

The Burning

Legend

These Are the Hands

A World Without Heaven

Spit Fire

2000 Years – (Live Debut)

The Chosen Ones

Land of the Perfect People

Us Against the World

Wasteland

Lightning

Last Chance

Eyes of the Young

Sleeve Notes

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