In my chaotic filing system, King Herd’s special guests, Zac And The New Men, would definitely be found under ‘Why the ‘eck have I not heard these before?’ To say that I was blown away would be an understatement akin to saying, ‘Erling Haaland might just get you a goal’.
Zac And The New Men
The Station, Cannock – 30 April 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: Andy Shaw
Hailing from the southern part of my homeland, with the crop of exceptional talent presently emerging from there, there has to be something in that valley water for sure. This youthful quartet comprising Zac (Davies) himself on vocals and guitar, Oli Poole also on guitar, James Dye on the bass and Will Newman on drums, deliver “Distinct and Explosive Blues Infused Heavy Rock.” As concise a term as one could possibly draft, given the kaleidoscope of musical textures, songwriting acumen, unbridled presence, and the sheer energy of their performances.
Zac has a voice that may well be compared to Matt Bellamy or Jeff Buckley but with the control and tonal intensity of the late great Chris Cornell. Many, of course, will also be drawn to his physical appearance, most noticeably the hair, but I was drawn to his eyes which had the cool, calm, all-observing gaze of Paul Rodgers. Now, he’s not a bad singer either.
Before I get carried away, let’s talk about the set. That ’70s blues-infused heavy rock influence was very much in evidence on opener Birdcage but add to that a beautifully contemporary sheen akin to The Winery Dogs.
Such was their confidence, after barely warming up, they catapulted into Immigrant Song. Any lingering doubts amongst the onlookers were henceforth smashed right out of the park.
“I gather most of you don’t know us,” reasoned Zac as he introduced Atom Bomb, the first unreleased track to be aired off of the forthcoming album. I can imagine this becoming a firm live favourite with its ‘Gang Like’ chorus atop a fuzzy riff. The title track Reinvent Me, followed. This has a superb vocal soaring above a rolling melody that would not be out of place in a Bond film.
A deceptively gentle guitar strum introduces the reversed That’s OK. I say reversed as it’s the chorus that comes crashing in. So many beautiful textures to this song, and one of the standout vocal performances from Zac.
More ’70s influences on Say It. Yet another huge riff punctuated by Will’s drums which built to a frenzied climax. “Waiting for you to give me a sign,” will no doubt be a line that is screamed back at the stage during subsequent live performances.
“If you want to jump along, then this is the time to do it,” introduced Deeper. If one is able, then it seems the right thing to do as that immense riff emerged loud n proud from its controlled suppression during the verse, symbolically, just like a release from the inner torment that is referenced in the lyrics.
“Thank you for being so amazing” introduced the finale of the Primal Screamish Begging, however this was already at a level that would not only match but arguably surpass the eclectic Glaswegians. “You got me begging for more,” chanted the audience led by Zac from atop the barrier. They certainly generated that desire for one more song, but alas, the usual time constraints came into force.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would go so far as to say that I have seen the future of rock ‘n’ roll, and that future is called Zac And The New Men, and that is why I am here before you today, brothers and sisters, to testify. That’s right. I will testify to that.
While Zac is mesmerising and will undoubtedly draw much of the audience’s focus, this is a band in the true sense of the word, with each member challenging the others to even greater heights of performance and musical excellence.
I had the utter pleasure of chatting with the guys immediately afterwards, so look out for that interview. As for the new album, Reinvent Me is due out on 19 May. Lie back, soak it up and be prepared to be blown away.
You can read the Mystiek and Slim & Blade review here.
You can read the King Herd review here.