Inglorious / Everything anyone could ask for in a hard rock show
Islington Assembly Hall London. 22 September 2021.
A celebratory air hangs over Islington before Inglorious’s London date this evening, and it’s not because it’s David Coverdale’s 70th birthday. Nor is it the fact that She Won’t Let You Go, lead single from the stupendous We Will Ride album, has this very afternoon passed a million streams on Spotify.
Words: Liz Medhurst
Photography: Steve Ritchie
It’s this and much more. The sun is shining, live music is back – not quite to normal levels as there’s still momentum to be gained before we are back to full throttle – and expectations are high that one of the best live bands on the scene is going to give us a night to remember.
And man did Inglorious deliver.
Proceedings started with an Americana-tinged set from Tim Prottey-Jones, an accomplished singer-songwriter with strong, rich vocals to match. Describing himself as “a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll,” he deftly commanded the stage armed with only an acoustic guitar.
His compositions provided a classy and engaging start to the evening. The storytelling ability on tracks such as Fire, Good Life and the autobiographical Drinking For 3 gave these tracks emotional resonance. With bags of charm, personality and talent, a wonderful choice for an opener.
Main support Mercutio were up next, a band that have been making waves with the release of their latest album Antagonist, and it was clear to see why.
The quartet packed a huge and extravagant sound, raw power with a polish. There is a foundation of a solid wall of sound, some in your face rock with touches of Velvet Revolver and Radiohead in places. It’s all about the frontman, though. Ross William Wild threw everything into his delivery, the cramped support space not deterring him at all as he acted as if he was on an arena stage.
You want commitment from a performance, and there was no shortage here, whether high-kicking, emoting, hurling himself to the ground or twirling round and round. Fortunately, the songs are pretty larger-than-life, too, with Chaos Is King, Alex and The Ghost That Is You sounding even stronger live than on the album.
A set that was hypnotic and mesmerising to watch.
Most of the excitement was saved for the main event, by which time the hall had filled to healthy levels, with the crowd spread out not only to the back but also the full width.
Inglorious have released two full albums since their last tour in 2019, a quite astonishing lockdown feat. The quantity hasn’t affected the quality either, starting with We Will Ride, a monster of an album stuffed to the brim with tracks of astonishing brilliance.
This was followed earlier this month by Heroine, a covers album with a difference. It is unique in that an all-male rock band is covering songs originally brought to prominence by some of the best female artists around. This appears to be the first of this scale. It’s done as a homage, not a competition and is a worthy addition to the collection.
The Inglorious catalogue has grown to the extent that putting a setlist together will lead to some hard choices. A way through has been found as this is well-chosen and beautifully paced, highlighting the recent albums and containing a respectable selection from across the previous ones.
The band are tight, together, and encourage each other’s performances. They have matured into a solid unit where everyone shines and also retains their own individuality. Lead singer Nathan James apologises early on as he is affected by a cold. This has led to three tracks being dropped from the set, but frankly, Nathan James, with a slightly reduced range, is still head and shoulders above many others, with no noticeable loss of power, quality or tone.
Unsurprisingly many of the highlights came from the We Will Ride tracks – My Misery and He Will Provide especially. These songs sound immense on the record due to the multi-layered production, and the six-piece recreate them brilliantly. This is not a surprise, of course, as Inglorious started from the very beginning recording live, being authentic without the use of trickery. With three albums and oodles of live shows under their belt, they have nothing to prove in this regard, so they have been able to experiment more in the studio, with full confidence that this would enhance the live shows and not be an insurmountable challenge.
All band members shine throughout without the need for overblown soloing. It’s all about what serves the songs best. There is an acoustic section where Phil Beaver steps down from behind the drums to show remarkable musicality and sensitivity in the twelve-string.
If you are going to do covers convincingly, there can be no hint of using them as filler or compensating for any lack of original material. Happily, there is no question of that here, and with the selection from Heroine, the band show that they connect to the songs and have the skills to get right under their skin and make them shine while adding a touch of something specifically Inglorious.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than Uninvited, the centrepiece of the set. Originally an Alanis Morissette song from the soundtrack of City Of Angels, the band have made it their own, showcasing exactly what is so special and noteworthy about their live experience.
The vocals run the full range from sensitive and gentle to thundering, all precision perfect. Add to this the breath-taking guitar interplay of Dan Stevens and Danny Dela Cruz. There is a moment when James strongly holds a vocal note before the guitar then takes up the exact tone and pitch and merges seamlessly into melodious motifs.
Rob Lindop on the keys shows impeccable timing and produces beautiful flowing tones. The contribution of the hard and heavy engine room of drummer Phil Beaver and bassist Vinnie Colla cannot be overstated.
The song ends with an extended solo which is a real thing of beauty, Dela Cruz taking centre-stage, but backed up by an arrangement so haunting and hypnotic and with so much light and shade it takes you to another place. And this is just one of many highlights.
There’s plenty of communication with the audience, too, a genuine two-way relationship between band and crowd. Nathan pays tribute to those who have not made it through the last eighteen months with gratitude and sincerity.
Tim Prottey-Jones returned to the stage for Eye Of The Storm, a heavyweight track he co-wrote with Nathan James and Phil Beaver. To see the friends and collaborators duetting with clearly so much joy was a delight.
Overall a setlist packed with gigantic riffs and almighty grooves, power, melody and emotion. It’s everything anyone could ask for in a hard rock show. The final track, Until I Die from the debut album, affirmed that Inglorious have had the talent and the songs right from the start and continue to get better and better.
Get a ticket for the remaining shows. This UK tour has twenty-two dates, which runs until the 8th of October, taking in some fantastic rock venues.
There is no better way of showing support for the venues, for the bands, for the production and all involved, than getting along to one of these.
We’ve missed it, we need it, and Inglorious shows us exactly how it should be done.
She Won’t Let You Go
Where Are You Now?
Read All About It
Glory Days (Acoustic)
Time After Time (Acoustic)
He Will Provide
I Don’t Need Your Loving
Eye of the Storm
We Will Ride
Until I Die