Earlier this week, my favourite band from Sweden stopped over in Sheffield, as they joined Black Star Riders for the UK leg of their European tour. And no, Agnetha and Björn hadn’t decided to stage their comeback in South Yorkshire. With big grins on their faces, the five Blues Pills took to the stage, clearly there to have a great time.
With her boundless bouncy energy powerhouse frontwoman Elin Larsson did not hang around long to get the show started. Kicking off with the title track of their second studio album, Lady in Gold, Blues Pills launched right into their unique blend of soulful and psychedelic hard blues-rock that makes the hairs in the back of your neck stand up.
It didn’t take many bars to win over the crowd of mostly dedicated Black Star Riders fans, and how could it not that the infectious positive energy, mesmerizing hard blues-rock that would be home in any of the past five decades.
Blues Pills recently released and a Live DVD of a set in Paris where they played the entirety of Lady in Gold. The powerful riffs and punchy chorus of Little Boy Preacher, the second track from the latest studio release, made me wonder if they were going to play the entirety of Lady in Gold in Sheffield as they did in France.
However, things were blues-ed up to 11, reminiscent of Janis Joplin, with Black Smoke from their self-titled first album. Like the previous songs this was a real treat and the raw energy of the song was mirrored by singer Larsson bouncing around the stage while guitarist Dorian Sorriaux letting rip with impeccable fretboard mastery.
Blues Pills are signed by German label Nuclear Blast, which is testament to their rock-credentials and musical prowess, which they were quick to highlight with the thunderous yet psychedelic wah-wah vibes of Element and Things.
Throughout the entire set, the energy was relentless not giving the audience a moment’s respite. After a quick dedication to the women in the audience, who were a definite minority in the mostly leather-clad middle-aged male crowd, the rumbling bass sound punctuated by heavy overdriven riffs and the raspy emotional vocals of High Class Woman, led the crowd to erupt and fully embrace the Blues Pills.
Keeping the crowd in their pocket and the energy of the Academy turned up on this Wednesday night, the consequent guitar-whaling jamming rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s Someone to Love would have made Grace Slick proud.
Ending on the soul-searching Devil Man from their debut single Bliss, the audience was treated to a long, gravelly, and captivating vocal solo that preluded the heaviest rock riffs of the set by the hippy rockers that would have easily fitted in at Woodstock.
Left wanting more, I for one would have loved to have seen Blues Pills play a much longer set. However, as calls are going around for votes of top concerts of the year, I’m glad that I got to see them before the end of year because they most definitely feature highly in my list and I can just hope that they will appear in my 2018 list again. Overall, it was an amazing evening with top-notch music and a fantastic atmosphere. If you like blues and rock, Blues Pills are a definite ‘must see!’
Photography and review of Blues Pills by Gunnar Mallon on 15 November 2017, at O2 Academy, Sheffield.