These Wicked Rivers at The Waterloo Music Bar, Blackpool – 12/3/23

On a wet and dreary Sunday, it is heartwarming to see a venue like The Waterloo Music Bar so busy for an evening of  NWOCR, or at least I think that is what is still called, it’s a complete contrast to the progressive metal I was listening to on the way down here, which on reflection, got me in a completely different mood.

Missing from tonight’s show are Gorilla Riot who have played most of the dates of this tour and whose music fits in perfectly with the headliners, that is a shame but there is a fantastic replacement instead.

Opening is Birmingham-based 3-piece Blue Nation whom I wasn’t previously familiar with they are providing a seriously good set of melodic blues rock and the crowd are fully behind them.  Their final song is about male suicide and sadly gets a jeer from someone in the audience, the band are trying to highlight the problem and sometimes we have to face unpleasant truths.    

The aforementioned replacement is Bastette.  I’ve caught them a couple of times now and they have been very impressive every time and tonight is no different as they cram 9 songs into their short set.  Caroline Kenyon’s vocals are in fine form too as she belts out Karma, rarely played and proves to be the best of the set. Rip Me To Shreds is also excellent and predictably there are loads of boos when the band announce the last song, Rollercoaster again is outstanding.  Time for a beer.

Photo by Ant Firmin

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The anticipation for These Wicked Rivers is electric, the wait is well worthwhile as the band wade through a fantastic set. Black Gold gets the loudest cheer and is delivered brilliantly with everyone rocking away and singing along and their new single impresses and slows the pace somewhat, with John Hartwell’s voice cutting through the mournful string sounds, stirring stuff.

Harp sounds provide a blues tinge to another banging rocker as the band preview songs from their upcoming new album.  Family seriously rocks and I am needing another beer.  The are crowd really getting in the swing of things too singing along with “Floyd don’t come along no more”, it’s emotional.  A change of pace and there is a serious heavy groove with Testify and I am rocking along. 

Sadly we get to the set closer as there is no encore tonight, Don’t Pray For Me, the emotion in Hartwell’s voice is palpable especially as it goes into a brief coda of Neil Youngs Hey Hey My My.  Excellent stuff!

Photo by Ant Firmin

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