It has been two years since I saw Virgil and the Accelerators live and they have used them wisely, honing their talent, which is on full technicolour display for tonight’s audience. The ten song set lasted approximately 105 minutes and was an amalgamation of new and old with, as singer/guitarist Virgil McMahon said “A bunch we’ve not played live before.”
The first three songs including single All Night Long were taken from forthcoming album Army of Three for which this gig was the album launch show. The playing was stellar from the start. Intricate, dirty blues rock. There is absolutely no denying the talent of Virgil on the guitar and with the groove ridden backing of his brother Gabriel on drums and Jack Timmis on bass, it is great to see blues rock played so dutifully by very young white Brits, with an ocean between them and the origins of the music.
The new material hits hard on the blues rock line drawing influence and licks from the likes of Joe Bonamassa, Iron Maiden and Eric Clapton, all of which are used carefully to lead into something else, but it is the sound of Eric Johnson that sticks out the most in Virgil’s guitar playing.
A huge crowd cheer went up for one of their signature songs 88, which had some great bass work from Jack as Virgil hit a few high vocal notes.
Humorous heckles of “not bad for a beginner” cast laughter across the audience at one point.
Through the Night was noticeably lighter and a different musical exploration from other new material played, and leans heavily on the ilk of 80’s rock. I particularly liked this track as much for the different air it created, as for showing the band have other avenues that they wish to explore in more depth than straight up blues rock.
Low Down and Dirty saw Virgil play extremely quietly as I have seen Joe Bonamassa do many a time, in what turned out to be a solo of such length it gave Peter Frampton a run for his money! It was perhaps a little bit too long for some as it led to a few audience members disrespectfully resuming earlier conversations in the quiet sections, which led to one die hard fan repeatedly “Shhh-ing” them, which became just as annoying in itself. However that was all over shadowed by the sound of THAT STRAT that harked back to my childhood sounds of Dire Straits.
As he changes back to the Gibson Firebird he was playing earlier, Virgil takes the opportunity to introduce Gabriel and Jack to the audience, before embarking on new song Free.
My one comment that may be considered negative by some, but isn’t meant in quite that vein is that it seems Virgil’s guitar playing is so good live that it has the effect of overshadowing his vocals, they just don’t quite compete. In no way are they poor vocals, his guitar playing is just too damn good!
Jack’s bass playing was complimentary to Virgil’s guitar work throughout the night, not being too out front and allowing Virgil to shine. Virgil and the Accelerators conclude the night with a cover of Are You Experienced.
Tonight was a treat. I can honestly say I have seen lesser shows from artists and bands with a more extensive repertoire.
Set List – Take Me Higher, Blow to the Head, All Night Long, Backstabber, Give It Up, 88, Through the Night, Low Down and Dirty, Free, Are You Experienced (cover)