It is not often that rock legends make a stop in Sheffield, but this Monday in November a guitarist, his three sons, and singer Neil Starr rolled into town to raise the roof of the O2 Academy, supporting Aussie-rockers Airbourne. It was therefore no surprise that the venue was packed even on a school night.
However, before Phil Campbell and his Bastard Sons went on stage, hillbilly rock’n’rollers from Canada, The Wild! made sure that everyone knew that jeans vests are back! In a patch-covered sea of jeans on jeans, the four heavy hardrockers took to the Academy’s stage like fish to water and raised the temperature in no time.
With a heavy brand of rock’n’roll, The Wild! quickly got heads banging and they were the perfect band to lead off the show. For my taste, there was a little too much showmanship relative to the length of the set and I would have liked to hear more music, which was of the highest order and which would hold its own without much of the theatrics.
Being sound lads and music lovers, all four made their way into the crowd after their set to mingle with their newly won fans and to enjoy Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons as well as Airbourne.
Launching straight into Big Mouth, it was clear that Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons had all of the gritty energy that we came to love Motörhead for and added a unique punked-up edge to the sound. If you didn’t know who Phil Campbell was, his distinctive sound would have allowed you to quickly place him in rock history.
It was great to see that the evening was not a tribute act to Motörhead, but that the band played a well-balanced mix of original material and Motörhead classics in what could only be described as a good-mood party rock’n’roll set. However, the show was not an onslaught of thumping hardrock, but a good melange of steady and anthemic rock’n’roll, heavy punkrock, and the odd slower blues, such as the original Dark Days.
Playing the show two days after the sad passing of AC/DC’s Malcolm Young, an emotional Campbell dedicated their Hawkwind cover Silver Machine to Young, and Motörhead’s Lemmy and Phil Taylor. The set ended on the iconic rock-anthem Ace of Spades, which was introduced by the customary crowd’s raised middle fingers directed at bassist Tyla Campbell.
Throughout the set, Phil Campbell didn’t draw all of the attention and gave plenty of space for his sons to establish themselves as great musician and shine in their own right, which they thoroughly did. Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons are a fantastic band to see live and will be back on tour throughout northern Europe in Spring of 2018, following the release of their first full-length studio album The Age of Absurdity on January 26th 2018, under Nuclear Blast.
Photography and review by Gunnar Mallon of Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons at O2 Academy, Sheffield on 20 November, 2017