Drawing the short straw and going on first at Norwich UEA, Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons were never going to give it less than their all, rousing an initially docile midweek crowd with their particular brand of heavy-duty rock ‘n’ roll.
Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons
UEA, Norwich – 15 February 2023
Photography: Steve Ritchie
Words: Paul Monkhouse
With guitarist Todd Campbell absent, it was a slimmed-down quartet hitting the stage, but the elder Campbell brought his ability to make one guitar sound like ten, filling in the sound and adding the feral thrill that was so much part of the DNA he brought to Motörhead.
The pounding declaration of their signature song We’re The Bastards opens, with singer Joel Peters in commanding form, his place in the tight-knit band well and truly cemented as he stands at the front of the stage, one foot on the monitor.
The following Bite My Tongue is a hammer blow, the drums of Dane Campbell pounding as the dancing, hard, and heavy riff drives the nails home, brother Tyla on teeth-rattling bass. Balancing brutality with melody, the songs are structured with more of a tilt to classic hard rock than anything as wildly purveyed by a lot of modern Metal bands and in that lies one of the Bastard Sons’ strengths.
Campbell Sr continues the knack of his former band by displaying a depth of writing that stands above the sheer blasting fury that some rely on, as here is material made to stand the test of time.
Big Mouth is a wrecking ball, the solo kept to the minimum as there’s no need for flash fretwork, and High Rule adds something of a funky groove to underpin its scything swing as this time Campbell lets loose with a longer guitar break.
The place erupts with the singalong to Born To Raise Hell, and this wave is ridden as Peters divides the crowd in two for a call and response for Get On Your Knees, the audience starting to really warm up now. The loping Freakshow and bluesy Dark Days continue the surge, the latter featuring a dynamic but soulful bit of playing by Campbell as he wrings notes out of his glinting Flying V.
With a righteous blast through Ace Of Spades to bring the set to a manic end, it was just down to a smiling and spent band to have a now traditional photo with the crowd before taking their bows and going for a well-earned chance to unwind.
There’s something so right in seeing the Motörhead six-stringer up there, doing what he was born to do with his sons by his side, and you can’t help but smile.
Still fighting for every single person in the audience, Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons are relentless and as committed to tearing the roof off and giving everyone a good time as any band out there. It’s a family business, and business is good.