Live Review: The Bros Landreth + Mariel Buckley, Shepherds Bush Empire – 1st September 2022

Sorry it took us so long to get here” proclaimed a somewhat relieved yet energised Joey Landreth midway into this evenings rocking opener ‘Runaway Train’. Late 2019 the band were in early touring stages, promoting the then recently released ‘87’ album, only for things to be inevitably soon cut short by the pandemic. Tonight’s show though, was not a continuation of unfinished proceedings, but a new jaunt accompanying this year’s freshly released ‘Come Morning’ LP. Operating live now as a three-piece (Joey, brother Dave and drummer Roman Clarke) they were keen to air these new tunes to a hungry Shepherds Bush audience. A spacious and stripped back ‘Stay’ had the boys in familiar harmonising territory only now tinged with an additional slice of extra vocal soul (think Neville Brothers or Hall & Oates) whilst ‘Drive All Night’ leaned even more minimally musically, yet worked equally as impressive.

Made Up Mind’ from their debut outing ‘Let It Lie’ saw Joey trading the slide guitar for some fine John Mayer like blues licks – if he’s not considered one of the best younger guitarists of modern times, then it’s about time he should. His musical chops were showcased to an even greater degree on the brooding ‘You Don’t Know Me’ which veered into the tones and timings of a late night jazz ensemble. Joey remained onstage for a moment alone and was visibly emotional explaining to the crowd the unforeseen (at the time of writing) lyrical references of ‘Come Morning’ and how they now develop a fuller poignancy as his own fatherhood evolves. Dave then returned abetted by support act Mariel Buckley and the three gather around the mic for a divested interpretation of Vince Gill’s ‘When I Call Your Name’. Their collective love of Gill is clear (as enthusiastically told to Americana UK here).

Dave takes lead vocal duties for a pounding ‘Shame’ and thereafter promotes pretty much everything the band can possibly sell, all available at the merch stall. You get the impression he’d hand over his own denim shirt for the right price – there is no dishonour in this – but is notably revealing of the financial liabilities involved for international bands touring the UK in modern times. The show closed with a storming rendition of Little Feat’s ‘Two Trains’ but prior to that there was a cover of The Invicibles’ ‘Can’t Win’. “I go to church every Sunday” they declare in full gospel throat. This may have been a Thursday, but for a ninety minute or so period, this west London congregation was all theirs.

Support act for the night was a short but not so sweet set from fellow Canadian Mariel Buckley. Less of the sweet that is, as Buckley self confesses “I only write about three things…“driving, being sad, drinking.” Her opening tune ‘Neon Blue‘ provided full validation of such, detailing a dimly lit scene of bar room brawls and parking lot pissing (just for clarity, the bathroom was out of service). Aided by some fine lap steel guitar she performs tracks mostly from her 2022 LP ‘Everywhere I Used To Be’, released on The Bros Landreth’s very own Birthday Cake record label. “What’s the point, when everybody knows your business” notes Buckley on ‘Hate This Town’. “People seem to love god fearing men” she adds. Her tracks paint strongly vivid and seemingly personal pictures. A lyrical and vocal talent to watch out for.

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