Tonight’s venue, Under the Bridge, is quirkily bolted into the lower level of Stamford Bridge, Chelsea FC’s football ground. Featuring regular music nights it has previously hosted tonight’s entertainment, Lethbridge Owen, several times. It might seem odd to go see a band underneath a football pitch but for anyone who was around in the mid 60s they might think that if any football club should include a rock venue, Chelsea is the one.
Lethbridge Owen are an emerging pop/rock/country outfit based around lead vocalist Kelly Louise Lethbridge and lead guitarist Jimmy Owen, hence the band name (which also would work well as artisanal bakers or market town solicitors if a portfolio career ever beckoned). The whole shebang tonight includes the integral contributions of Erik Stams (ex Darling Buds) – Drums, Noah Nelson – Bass, Kevin Webster – Keys, Leo Pasquali and Liz Mason Backing Vocals and Marcus Kerrzey – Guitar.
Celebrating the release of their album, ‘Mind Over Matter’, the band played it from start to finish. Musically, it’s a lively melange and the set was almost strategically carved into sections, the harder end of pop-rock, acoustic duets and then bluesier rock. It’s rarely what we’d call core Americana, but nor is it ever far away from it and there is an array of well- crafted and slickly presented material. The ubiquitous Fleetwood Mac comparisons aside (and standout track ‘Re Inspire’ is very much of that ilk), the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Heart come to mind, and Kelly Lethbridge’s presence and sound – and wardrobe selection – has elements of Grace Slick and the Wilson sisters. The more Americana elements were provided courtesy of songs such as ‘Leaving Home’, whilst a duet, ‘If Only’, could be thought of as The Shires with spikes. Lead guitarist Owen in particular is a forceful sonic presence and an instrumental solo number bravely highlighted his virtuosity. Other highlights included the bluesy double helping of ‘Taking Over Me’ and ‘Back To The Blues’, played back to back and both expansive with swooping vocals and guitar wig outs summoning up the spirit of Woodstock. The final encore of Hendrix’s ‘Bold As Love’ confirmed the influence and era.
Lethbridge Owen were certainly generous with the show lasting almost two hours. Given good promotion and with some lucky breaks, the band’s prowess, strong visual presence and punchy sound could see them step up to bigger things.