Archive – 2018: Warrior Soul And Shark Island Epic At Bannermans

The unfortunate cancellation of the Hull Metal Heaven Festival meant that there were some disappointed bands around as well as fans. The financial ramifications of this caused a lot of issues but this is rock’n’roll and the show must go on, so Edinburgh’s music fans were pleased to see that Warrior Soul and Shark Island rocked into town to go ahead with their much anticipated mouth watering double bill in Bannermans.

Words: Ian Sutherland

Pictures: Mark Holloway

Bannerman’s, Edinburgh – 26th September 2018

Shark Island

LA rockers Shark Island have a long and storied history but are very rare visitors to these shores and in common with a few other veteran acts I’ve seen this year are making their first ever appearance in Scotland.

shark island

Slimmed down to a four piece on this occasion and with only singer Richard Black and bass player Christian Hellman left over from their classic ‘Law Of The Order’ album days, they could have been allowed a little ring rust in their performance. A false start to opening tune ‘Make A Move’ due to sound issues didn’t help but it really doesn’t take them long to get into their stride once that’s sorted.

Black out front is still the epitome of LA cool and is totally in charge up there, somehow seeming both relaxed and laid back and at the same time a coiled spring full of energy waiting to be released. He can cut those rock star shapes with the mic stand effortlessly and that strong, raspy rock’n’roll voice is still there but it’s his confident, manner that lets him stay in charge of the room without having to try too hard.

shark island

Much of the set is of course based around that debut album and there is a really confident, polished groove to the quality hard rock of ‘Shake For Me’ and ‘Somebody’s Falling’. Old favourite ‘Paris Calling’ is given a sensitive acoustic treatment to a real hush in the room before that classic riff is rolled out in full blown electric form.

The rest of the band’s catalogue isn’t ignored with ‘The Stranger’ from the ‘Gathering Of The Faithful’ album letting their bluesy side show through and ‘My City’ and ‘Father Time’ highlighting when it was important to get your band’s cool rock tune on to a film soundtrack.

Closing with their imaginative reworking of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’, Shark Island showed their fans old and new in the crowd that they are still full of quality tunes and no little LA style. The passage of time hasn’t made a dent in that. A terrific performance in any circumstances and one which whetted the appetite for more.

shark island

Warrior Soul

Warrior Soul as a band name have been around since 1987 but it has always revolved around the songs and talent of charismatic vocalist Kory Clarke. He has the reputation of being hugely talented but often unpredictable and when his band launched into the heavy groove of ‘American Idol’ and he marched onto the stage waving a nearly empty bottle of bourbon it was obvious that this was going to be an eventful night.

What followed was actually an example of giving everything you have on stage; total commitment to the real spirit of rock’n’roll.

warrior soul

Mixing nineties classics and twenty first century anthems railing at the state of the world, the three musicians on stage didn’t seem to put a foot wrong. Clarke obviously trusts them immensely and relies on them to keep it all together and nail down the planned setlist, through the tightly controlled groove of ‘Love Destruction’, the burning angst of ‘The Losers’ or the massive rock’n’roll energy of ‘The Wasteland’. It’s not always easy as they obviously aren’t any more sure than the audience what their leader will do next, but while headgear is stretched over their eyes, mic stands are beaten on the stage and even at one point the drummer is replaced by Clarke for a couple of minutes the music keeps going in impressive fashion.

The crowd of course can’t take their eyes off the man at the center of all this. His vocals aren’t always perfect but every word is delivered with complete conviction, he means every syllable and that passion is authentic and real. ‘Punk And Belligerent’ could be his theme tune but among all that attitude is an artist, a punk poet with things he wants to say and an instinct on how that should be delivered.

warrior soul

The rock’n’roll spirit and the alcoholic ones are mixing in just the right proportions tonight and the set stretches out into a two-and-a-half hour marathon. By the time things finally come to a halt around midnight the set list has long been exhausted and we have been treated to unrehearsed yet compelling deep cuts from the band’s history.

This was a terrific night, two quality rock acts with completely different styles doing their thing. Warrior Soul’s set in particular was rock and roll in its purest form, edgy, unpredictable, even dangerous at times but a genuine art form filled with moments of beauty and majesty. I felt exhausted just watching it all but privileged to have witnessed it.

Sleeve Notes

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