Sons of Bill – Live Review – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
By Victoria Holdsworth, August 2018
An intimate evening in the Brudenell for some far distanced travellers, bringing with them their rolling, slick and seductive Virginian-tinged Americana sound.
With five albums, already under their belts, Sons of Bill really should be making headway. It has been quite some time since they toured the UK, and this was the first chance I’d had to see them live. They did not disappoint. Indeed, hearing them live is a whole new experience for a lover of their records, like me.
James Wilson’s vocals will grab you from the off with his honey rich tones and plush harmonies. His brothers, Abe on keyboards and Sam on electric guitar, create a background of sound that will immerse you in Southern charms.
The set list comprises some old, but mainly new songs from their last album, Oh God Ma’am, and songs such as ‘Believer/Pretender’ show that these guys have certainly evolved greatly from the earlier days. They seem to be a little bit rockier and darker, and the songwriting has developed immensely too. If you like: they’ve grown up.
James Wilson rings out the lines: “I always know when you’re in trouble by the colour that you dye your hair,” on the tune ‘Easier’, a modern day love song. Other stand out tunes, such as ‘Brand New Paradigm’, show off some of Sam Wilson’s guitar prowess, including a solo than can only be described as a soul melter. Tracks such as ‘Fishing Song’ show an emotional rawness, unlike almost anything you have heard before.
The connection they have with each other and their audience is on another level, as they spectrally glide into the track ‘Green to Blue’, with its Pink Floyd vibe and some striking guitar work and ethereal sounds. ‘The Big Unknown’ contains some killer hooks, with an extra helping of jangle furled guitar riffs, showcasing all of their talents in one giant explosion.
Sons Of Bill are very deceptive. They can produce heart wrenching melodies, and then they send you soaring into another dimension, quite unexpectedly – especially when they throw you an acoustic curveball in the form of Iron Maiden’s ‘Wasted Years’.
An inspiring ‘Virginia Calling’ certainly left its mark tonight, in more ways than one. With sweeping sounds which invoke 80s icons Echo and the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes, Sons of Bill have created such a unique sound, which is so much more than the Americana tag given to them.
After tonight’s performance Bill must be a very proud father to have sons like this.