When Rivers Meet Show International Class On Famous Bristol Boat

In his recent interview, Aaron Bond, one-half of the husband-and-wife team that comprises When Rivers Meet, promised something special for their Aces Are High tour. Leaving a heaving Thekla into the crisp evening after this second show on the tour, it was impossible not to have been impressed by how the band had stepped up not one level but three since their last visit to the city in May 2023.

When Rivers Meet – Dusk Brothers

Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024

Words And Photography: Paul Hutchings

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

The venue is packed from port to starboard, necks straining to get the best view of one of the most in-demand outfits on the circuit today. The first independent Blues artists to achieve a top ten placing in the UK charts, it’s no wonder that the queue stretched around the river wall well before doors opened, many decked out in the band’s t-shirts and hoodies. 

The anticipation is high and elevates further as a large video screen is revealed a couple of minutes before the set starts. The threat of a Windows reboot halfway through provokes much mirth, albeit with a slight dread of possible disaster. 

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It doesn’t happen, and the band’s graphics throughout the show complement rather than distract in any way. 

Taking the stage to a huge ovation, one wonders what When Rivers Meet would have to do to cause any disgruntlement in the partisan crowd. The interactions throughout demonstrate that this band is massively loved, and when Aaron reveals that Grace thought she was in Norwich earlier in the day, it’s greeted with good-natured laughter and some over-exaggerated West Country accents. 

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It’s a comfortable environment, but When Rivers Meet have substantially upped their game. As well as the screen, the lighting is dramatic and dynamic, with plenty of smoke pillars enhancing the drama as it unfolds. 

Of course, all the bells and whistles mean squat if you haven’t got the music to support it. When Rivers Meet have it in spades. 

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

They hit the ground in top gear, a pulsating Infected getting the heads nodding, and although some bands take a few songs to get warmed up, the quartet on stage, James Fox on drums / acoustic guitar and producer Adam Bowers on bass, keys and guitar complete the line-up, appear to have no rust rings whatsoever. 

Seen It All Before and Play My Game keeps the tempo nicely elevated, and the band immediately demonstrates a cohesive and organic style. 

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It’s Grace who provides most of the visual options. Occupying centre stage, she has more freedom to move on the small stage and delights in pointing to familiar faces in the audience. It’s a performance that feels personal despite 350+ other people all crammed next to you; such is the effect that this band has on you. 

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It’s good to see Aaron take the lead on a couple, including Trails To Avalon, one of my highlights on the latest record. His guitar work is, to my untrained eye, more fluid than before. At one point, he completes a guitar changeover at stunning speed, more akin to a pit crew at Formula One, which prompts amazement from his wife. 

As always, there’s plenty of audience interaction, which is enjoyed by all. Few at these gigs display bad manners, although a couple of slightly over-excited males do decide to have a chat during one of the acoustic numbers. They are quickly shut down by the mainly excellent audience. 

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It’s a beautifully paced set with the introduction of a lovely acoustic session that resulted from jam moments at their Boathouse studio. They recreate it with panache, playing Eye Of A Hurricane and By Your Side gently, before shattering the moment by revealing that it is known as “the erection session”. 

A bit of terrible innuendo follows, with much laughter. This band is serious about what they do, but they have fun at the same time. 

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

More dramatic lighting and clouds of dry ice see the main set conclude with Walking The Wire and a big Free Man. Grace and Aaron leave the stage, but with James and Adam remaining on stage, there’s no doubt we will get the encore. 

Adam shows his exceptional musical quality has no limit as he takes the keyboard for the delicate and emotional Golden before grabbing his bass for the grand finale, Did I Break The Law, which gets everyone singing along one last time. 

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

In my review of their last Bristol show, I said that I would be unsurprised if When Rivers Meet were not moving towards Academy size venues within a year. 

This show demonstrated that they are ready for such a move, although their independent ethos may prove a buffer against such a switch. 

Whichever way they choose to progress, there is only one direction for When Rivers Meet, and that is up.

Limited tickets are available for the rest of the tour from here.

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
Dusk Brothers

Badged as a ‘Dark Swamp Blues’ duo, Dusk Brothers bring a sweeping air of relaxed confidence and laid-back Southern style to the evening. The venue is already packed out as they take the stage, brothers Grey and E Moncrieff immediately look the part. 

Dressed in Stetsons, boots, and a retro Country & Western / blues / hard rock hybrid outfit, they clamber behind their collection of individually crafted instruments, mainly the percussion which has been salvaged from skips around the Bristol area. 

Dusk Brothers - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
Dusk Brothers – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Local boys they may be, revelling in the joy of a ten-minute drive home tonight, but there is something uniquely engaging about these two. Their music isn’t anything original, although the delivery is polished yet gritty at the same time. 

But they provide a compelling watch. In-between song banter is plentiful, from Rum to the tale of salvaging scrap from a kebab shop and all washed down with swigs of Red Stripe, the crowd is captivated. 

Dusk Brothers - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
Dusk Brothers – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Over 40 minutes, I’ve rarely seen such a spell cast on the audience by a support act the way Dusk Brothers enchant. 

Smooth yet rough, with a confidence that sits just the right side of arrogance, these two could go far. With headline shows booked in August, including a night at The Fleece, which will no doubt be filled, many followers on social media, regular live streams that many here are fully versed with, and a debut album promised, these two are very much worth keeping a keen eye on. 

April

27apr7:00 pmWhen Rivers Meet | SouthamptonThe Brook

28apr7:00 pmWhen Rivers Meet | BristolThekla

May

02may7:00 pmWhen Rivers Meet | ManchesterGorilla

03may7:00 pmWhen Rivers Meet | GlasgowSt Lukes

04may7:00 pmWhen Rivers Meet | LeedsBrudenell Social Club

09may7:00 pmWhen Rivers Meet | NorwichEpic Studios

10may7:00 pmWhen Rivers Meet | NottinghamRescue Rooms

11may7:00 pmWhen Rivers Meet | LondonThe Garage

When Rivers Meet - Thekla, Bristol - 28 April 2024
When Rivers Meet – Thekla, Bristol – 28 April 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

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