Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Rising Souls - Tron Kirk, Edinburgh, 2 August 2015

Festival time is upon us in Edinburgh, and The Rising Souls are busy.  Hotfoot from doing a set at the Hard Rock Café Festival stage in St Andrews Square, they pitch up at the Tron Kirk, plug in, get miked up, check the monitors, and get straight on with the business of delivering their ‘stripped back soul’.
The Tron is an atmospheric venue, and fills up nicely with a mixture of tourists and, I suspect, Souls fans.  With a new album in the offing, the band deliver a 45 minute set that leans heavily on new material, starting off with the rhythmic ‘Give To The Women’.  Right away it’s apparent that the be-hatted Tom Reed has everything going on in the percussion department – cajón, cymbal, and tambourine and shakers on his feet.  ‘Down By The River’ follows, a simple, slower song with a dash of country in the mix.
The Rising Souls heat up the Tron Kirk
But it’s with ‘That Girl Is A Hurricane’ that the set takes flight, as Dave Archibald’s acoustic guitar and Roy ‘Kelso’ Laing’s bass combine with Reed’s box on quiet verses and a stomping chorus, with some tasty harmonies thrown in for good measure.  It begs for, and ultimately kicks off, a ‘Hey Jude’-ish singalong, which in turn is the springboard for a storming crescendo.  Dave Archibald may have a barnstormer of a soulful voice, but this is one of numerous songs that demonstrate he’s also a stonkingly good songwriter.
‘Lay That Tango Down’ is bluesier, rocking along over a nagging, picked guitar line.  They follow it up with a cover of ‘Pressure And Time’ by Rival Sons, Archibald’s favourite current band, which slots into their sound perfectly.  Choppy and funky, it shows just how tight they are, with Laing’s bass locked into Reed’s cajón.
The format may be acoustic, but they make terrific use of dynamics and changes in pace to bring variety to their sound, qualities that are clearly in evidence as they bring things to a peak.  ‘The Boxer’, from their 2014 mini-album (previously reviewed here), has a great hook from the very first chord, and by way of a cheeky bass solo from Laing (which I do believe quotes MC Hammer’s ‘Can’t Touch This’, of all things) segues into ‘The Boxer Part 2’ from the forthcoming full-scale album.  With a riff that has distinctly Keef-like undertones, and a vocal straight out of a Stax single from the late Sixties, it cranks up the atmosphere big time.  ‘She’d Better Lift It Up’ features funky, wandering bass, and by this time Tom Reed is sweating bullets, drawing an extra loud cheer of appreciation when he’s introduced by Archibald.
‘Steady As She Goes’ is more laid back, and perhaps not as strong as the other material on display, despite some nice guitar towards the end.  But ‘Sorry That I Love You’ is a rousing set closer, with great vocal phrasing from Archibald, and a great chorus that drives the crowd into clapping along.
The Rising Souls are a singular kind of three-piece, with their no frills approach.  But this short set offers yet more evidence of their quality.  They’re playing here and there in Edinburgh every couple of days in the coming weeks.  If you’re in town, go see them.

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