Rival Sons at Danforth Music Hall, Toronto

Support: The London Souls| Derrick Brown
May 8, 2017 at Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
Promoter: Collective Concerts

After finishing off a thirteen month run of shows supporting the biggest heavy metal band night after night, the Rival Sons have taken it upon themselves set up a different kind of show for their headlining tour across Europe and North America. Dubbed the Teatro Fiasco Tour, this current tour sees the band take things into their own hands, having handpicked a couple of unlikely acts from the world of radio and poetry to open up every night with a touch of variety.

Opening up the show and filling the lengthy, tedious gaps Canadian shows all seem to have in between sets, DJ Howie Pyro of Intoxica Radio set the mood in the venue with his turntables and 45 inch record collection. Accompanying his mix of 50’s and 60’s blue and rock n’ roll were a delightful set of visuals to complete the decorum; trailer clips from the old musical movies from the same era adorned the walls to each side of the stage. Despite being curled up to the left of the stage, Howie’s presence helped liven the mood and put the audience in a cheerful, dancing mood.

Joining the band on the North American branch of the Teatro Fiasco tour, the fuzzy-haired duo known as The London Souls from New York set out to win over the crowd with their dynamic, straight-to-basics Blues Rock Jams. The sturdy-looking frontman and his partner on the drums fired off to a great start with some opening numbers set to rocking licks and fiery vocals. As admirable as the pair’s stage presence stayed throughout the set, the London Souls regrettably came short of meeting all expectations and criteria for a fully convincing show. Besides the slightly murky guitar tone, the main shortcoming at fault here were the compositions, decent but failing to hit the sweet spot that would add some depth to the impressive showmanship on display. The melodies popping to the backbeat provided for some decent jams to bob your head to but failed to make much of a lasting impression. Competent yet ultimately forgettable, the band held up on stage nonetheless and gave a decent show.

Derrick Brown, the second third of the the Teatro Fiasco lineup stepped to the stage a half hour later. Having just returned from the tour’s run across Europe, the American Spoken Word performer began his set wearily and cautiously, taking a defensive stance and bracing himself for negative feedback from a potentially close minded audience. Thankfully, the show was allowed to run its course with no more than a few benign disruptions (which did not prevent Derrick to stay on the defense, unfortunately). Derrick Brown recited a handful of his poems and hit the nail on the head right off the bat. Like a great standup comedian, Derricks’ recitations were animated by his lively, captivating and occasionally snappy pacing and delivery, his poems winning laughter and cheers as well as silent attention from his audience. Funny, touching and occasionally just downright weird, Derrick Brown’s well versed set of poems proved to be a daring but fitting addition to the tour.

Thus came the time for Rival Sons to deliver the goods. Under the cheers of a room filled with ecstatic fans, the Long Beach rock n’ roll cowboys made an epic entrance look as sharp as ever, to the sounds of ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. A lightning-like rush struck through the room as the band burst into the fiery ‘Hollow Bones, Pt.1’ off of the bands’ latest record, the first of a series of action packed banger to ignite the evening ablaze. The hard hitting riffs popped and grooved with crisp precision to the stellar drum work handled by Mike Miley. The vibe was electric, the playing on songs like ‘Thundering Voices’ and ‘Electric Man’ too tight to be adequately described without resorting to smutty analogies.

The boys were visibly determined to return the warm welcome and gave a florid show at the top of their game. Once again, Jay Buchanan stole the show, decidedly unable to hold still on his feet nor belt anything other than pitch-perfection with his powerful voice. The frontman soared into those high notes without breaking so much as a sweat, let alone a crease in his fancy outfit. Touring Keyboardist Todd Ögren-Brooks also proved to be a nice addition to the band’s lineup on the newer songs as with the old classics. With the audiences all charged up, the quintet slowly toned down the pace after an explosive entrance and would go to play slower numbers. With songs like ‘Where I’ve Been’ and ‘Face of Light’, the Rival Sons maintained their grip on the audience with vivid, emotional outpours about love and forgiveness.

Taking full advantage of their headlining spot, the band gave the more nuanced numbers a bit more space in their set, playing a series of them before soaring back into the glorious, anthemic chants of ‘Torture’, thus picking up the pace for the last run of sons of the night and pushing the energy into an infectious frenzy. With ‘Hollow Bones, Pt.2’ to make things full circle followed by ‘Keep on Swinging’, the Rival Sons crowned their performance with the appropriate final send-off for the entire show.

With a performance such as this one, the grounds of Rival Sons’ resounding success appear as clear and obvious as can be. Overall, the whole tour concept served as a nice addition to the whole experience with it’s inclusion of poetry, DJ sets and visuals, though one could have seen the concept pushed further. With that being said, the Teatro Fiasco Tour serves as a promising undertaking for Rival Sons, one that we should hopefully see grow and expand as the band carries on its rock n’ roll crusade across the globe.

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