The set had something for everyone; driving hard rock, a few handpicked choice covers and totemic anthems. Massive respect to the engine room of Donna Peters beating the skins and Billy Dedman pulsing the bass lines, these two handled the sometimes complex timing changes with aplomb and drove the band’s sound along.
Scorching guitarist Paul Turley was economic in his physical movement but majorly expressive in his serious fretwork. In vocalist Paul Muir the band has a dude that is every inch the cool swaggering frontman, prowling the stage, throwing the shapes and laying down the impassioned vocals.
Last night Albany Down were a rock band in full cry and when they hit the rev limiter on the hard rock numbers Turley delivered and devoured the hungry urgent riffs, Muir dug deep and extorted his voice to hit heights and plunge the depths, while Peters and Dedman stoked the engine room fires. Man Like Me a prime example, the marching drums of Peters laid on throbbing bass lines, looped Turley riffs and Muir’s aggressive vocal. You’d Better Run spat venom and menace with its lacerating riffs, booming rhythms and Muir’s threatening vocal; You’d Better Run, You’d Better Hide, Got a Loaded Gun and a Twisted Mind.’
The choice of covers was positively electrifying, a ballsy Bluesy version of the Led Zep classic Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Muir and Turley weaving together the lyric and the melody, rhythm section dictating the pace and time changes before Turley strode forward and oozed out a glorious sustained solo. A rabble rousing rocked up Johnny B Goode had the place jumping and equally impressive was a bombastic tear through Free’s All Right Now, Muir on the pace with the rasping vocal and Turley carving out the Kossof lead breaks with ease.
In every aspect this was a band at the top of their game and Albany Down are the real deal but for me when they go epic and expansive this is where they really shine. The Eastern tinged fusion, beats and sounds of She’s the Light transported us to the dark Desert Plains; Turley mesmerised me as he created the atmospheric haunting sounds from the mere 6 strings of a guitar and Muir laid down a searching vocal. Then my personal favourite, the truly anthemic You Ain’t Coming Home; a tumultuous aural soundscape, built on the slow burning embers of Turley’s lead break, Peters and Dedman’s soothing rhythms and Muir’s hurting mournful lyric. As the song grew, the collective built layer upon layer of glorious sounds urging Muir to pour heart and soul in to a vocal performance of genuine emotion and feel.
If that was not sufficient the atmosphere got denser with the two signature epics that drew proceedings to a close. The Working Man, described aptly by Muir as ‘a song for the people,’ shot through with feel and pain on the vocal, Muir’s neck veins straining at the leash as he conjured the imagery of life’s struggles and Turley embellished the feeling with two gloriously executed solos of equal passion. Then finally, South of the City, Muir and Turley opening in the harmony of hushed vocal and weaving gentle licks that by stealth opened out in to sprawling aural vista that ebbed and flowed incessantly. Muir prowling the stage delivering rasped gravel edged vocals and Turley scything the thing open with two monstrous slide driven solos.
To those that say ‘rock is dead and dying’ you are simply listening to the wrong bands. Seeing this rock outfit in full flow last night the future of rock is very bright and in safe hands. Albany Down deserves wider acclaim and exposure on mainstream rock radio!
Review by Nigel Foster
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