The Magpie Salute + Maker, Portsmouth Pyramids Centre, 10th De­­­­­­­cember 2018

Comprising of three fifths former Black Crowes’ members and two parts formerly of the Rich Robinson band, it comes as no surprise that The Magpie Salute cut the proverbial mustard with their individual musical chops and on stage at ease confidence. Formed in 2016 after the seemingly non-amicable ship jumping of lead singer Chris Robinson, they could easily (although perhaps not legally) have been named The Black Crowes part two. But with a new name and perhaps a new ethos came The Magpie Salute. Tonight’s opening song, ‘High Water,’ taken from this year’s LP of the same name, intertwines intricate guitar lines on to a roaring chorus  as John Hogg shouts out,‘‘The shadow is woken/the challenge is open”.  A band mission statement quite possibly. A strutting ‘Mary The Gypsy’ follows with guitarists Rich Robinson & Mark Ford adding to the vocal duties. The same pairing meanwhile lean things a little more towards the Allman Brothers with duelling solos on the slow starting and heavy riff ending ‘For The Wind’.

Playing many an ad lib cover version appears to be a firm part of the band’s ethos too, as testified on their self-titled live LP debut release (a brief internet search of all things setlist reveals that their covers differ nightly and often wildly). This evening’s picks include a crunching Jeff Beck style  ‘All Shook Up’ followed by the much undervalued Led Zep rarity ‘Hey Hey What Can I Do’ with Ford, Hogg and Robinson only, gathered around centre stage on a  single microphone for some 12 string and slide playing acoustic intimacy. The Faces’ ‘Glad and Sorry’ gets a respectful soulful going over  before they pick and harmonize onto ‘What Is Home’. Mid tune the remainder of the band re-convene to the stage and build the song to a spontaneous close out, hammond organ whirls & guitar solos a plenty with Robinson, leader of the orchestration, conducting with mere headed nods and shoulder dips. A sprinkling of Black Crowes’ numbers point the night towards a finish. A wailing ‘Midnight From The Inside Out’ is followed up by an all singing ‘Soul Singing’. They launch into the Crowes’ ‘Sting Me’ before finishing the set with their own ‘Send Me An Omen’. “Waiting for the River’s ride,” Hogg sings, “And rode it on and on”.

Rich Robinson has previously described the band as “the most musically connected of all of his previous incarnations” and its easily to see why. The only omen action required tonight is a respectful salute to the magpie indeed.

Support act for the UK tour, at the behest of Rich Robinson himself, was the four piece Maker from Gillingham/Medway. Furnished with fine rock’n’roll haircuts, Paisley tailoring and armed with vintage Les Pauls, they’re a band with more than a nod and a wink to the The Faces and Humble Pie. They played a selection of songs from their debut album, ‘Dead Ends & Avenues,’  with bluesy stomps and rock rhythms and they also had time to cover Ike & Tina Turner, with some excellent blues harp interludes.

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