The Rails + Danny Wilson, Oslo, Hackney, London, 29th October 2019

This was the last UK tour date for The Rails – Kami Thompson and James Walbourne – who had hit the road in support of their album, ‘Cancel The Sun’, released back in August. The support tonight was from Danny Wilson, of Danny & The Champions Of The World, Bennett, Wilson, Poole and Grand Drive. His six-song set was a nice introduction to him, simple with a good acoustic guitar accompaniment.  Playing songs from his back catalogue for the most part, he ended his set with a cover of Ronnie Lanes’ ‘Debris’, for which he was joined on stage by James Walbourne and Sean Read.

The Rails took to the stage about 30 minutes later.  In a change to their previous tours, both Thompson and Walbourne were on electric guitar throughout. It was something different and was nice to hear some of the songs they typically play on the acoustic with a more electric sound. Starting their set with ‘Inheritance’ and ‘Call Me When It All Goes Wrong’ from their latest album, they had the audience’s attention from the outset.

As the set progressed, they mixed in songs from their previous releases, including ‘Other People’ – the title track from their previous album and dedicated to Boris Johnson – and ‘Panic Attack Blues’ – a personal favourite.  They also included a cover of Bap Kennedy’s ‘On the Mighty Ocean Alcohol’, a song I had not previously heard, but following this beautiful rendition, I will be looking to educate myself on Bap Kennedy’s back catalogue.

This was a full band gig which meant they were joined by keyboards, bass and drums – Sean Read (who boasts Dexy’s Midnight Runners amongst his credits), Carwyn Ellis and Kristoffer Sonne respectively. All great musicians, but there was something strange yet mesmerising about the way Sonne played the drums – a style I have never seen before and if you ever get to see him you will see what I mean.

I have been following The Rails from their early days when they were the Dead Flamingos and one of the things I love about them is how they bring London into a lot of their music. One such song is ‘The Cally’ which they performed and was one of the highlights for me.  The other being ‘Fair Warning’ from their debut album of the same title.  Whilst I like their new album, I haven’t listened to it enough to have the same feelings towards the songs as I do to their previous ones yet.

It was a great gig. They played all but one song from the new album (so a good intro to those who had yet to listen) and it definitely won them some new fans – I was talking to a few such people. Their relaxed interaction – that of two people who have been playing together for more than five years – adds to the entertainment of the music. If you like your folk on the rock side, want to listen to a more urban style of folk or just want to listen to music that has great lyrics and some awesome guitar playing, The Rails are worth checking out live or on record – they are equally as good on both.

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Alan Fox

” I was there” : a great set , and I too liked “The Cally” : see here for brief clip >