Thursday, April 26, 2018

Wayward Sons - The Mash House, Edinburgh, 22 April 2018

If you’ve passed this way much before, you may have clocked that when I’m not on the blues beat I’m still partial to a bit of hard rock. It’s what I grew up with, after all. So last weekend took in a premier blues-roots performance from Ian Siegal on Saturday, and this show from rockers Wayward Sons on the Sunday. And if the former was full of heart and soul, Sunday was simply a blast.
Led by former Little Angels front man Toby Jepson, the Sons carry off the impressive trick of marrying sophisticated classic rock stylings with a rock’n’roll energy rush that evokes anything from Slade to ‘Teenage Kicks’ to the Foo Fighters.  The result is a live set that’s like being slapped in the fizzog by that orange bloke from the old Tango ads.
Toby Jepson - still kicking up dust!
Catchy tunes abound from the album The Ghost Of Yet To Come, ranging from ‘Ghost’ early on to the brooks-no-argument set closer ‘Until The End’.  On ‘Crush’ they knowingly pick up on a phrase and pivot into a rocking rendition of Blondie’s ‘Union City Blues’.  And if there’s a typhoon-like intensity throughout, they also bring a convincing slower groove to ‘Something Wrong’, powered by Phil Martini’s howitzer drumming.  By this time there are outbreaks of air guitar among the already buzzing crowd, and the place is starting to sweat.
And it’s not just the songs that produce this state of affairs.  Wayward Sons are delivery men on a mission.  Jepson is a born front man, preset to the same wavelength as his audience, and looking like Robert Plant’s rather less grizzled nephew.  What’s more, his pipes are still in full rocking order, and he has a more than handy way with witty, real-world lyrics such as that on ‘Be Still’.  At his side, Nic Wastell is a blur of bass-thrusting energy from start to finish, frequently in danger of a head-on collision with ducting paraphernalia at the side of the stage. His rhythm buddy Martini comes on in shades, and completes the cool dude look with a Jeff Beck-ish barnet, but he goes at it hammer and tongs.  Keys man Dave Kemp, it has to be said, is an elusive presence hidden by a
speaker stack from where I’m standing, only his disembodied hands visible like Thing from The Addams Family.
Lead guitarist Sam Wood is the baby of the outfit, letting rip and evidently having a ball, but with an occasionally bemused air about him that calls to mind the whale in The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy: “Wow, that was a bit of biff, wasn’t it? And a bit rough too.  I think I’ll call it a riff!”  Happily his playing meets with a friendlier reception than the whale though.
They fling in Little Angels’ ‘Kicking Up Dust’ along the way, but are adventurous enough to add some new songs that fit in seamlessly, rather than relying on Jepson’s former glories.  They even encore with new tune ‘Backslide’, before going out in a blaze of screaming Les Paul and an exhalation of the outro from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.  Crowd happy, job done.
Filing out with the house lights up, I turn and find myself looking straight into the face of Toby Jepson.  “Not bad,” I say with a smile and a nod.  “Alright?” he grins, with a twinkle in his eye.
Yeah Toby, alright. ‘Nuff said.

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