We arrive at The Cavern Club, Liverpool to be greeted on the street by an excited James Whitehouse, lead singer of Rival Bones. He’s come up to street level to get signal and welcomes me and my friend, telling us that the support band is about to go on. We walk down the winding staircase of this iconic club and immediately get hit by the sounds of some Beatles/John Lennon impersonator on the small stage under the arches. Confused, it takes a second to realise that the gig we’re here for is taking place out of the way of the tourists, in the back room. Security stop us at the curtain and saying we’re on the list for this free event gets us in like a password. There is no list.
The back room of the Cavern is atmospheric and we arrive to see that Black Pulp are already on stage. It’s the Millennial whooping sound of Razorlight and the Kooks to my ears. The room is packed however with a buzzing crowd as the likable lead singer asks., “Are you gonna move with us?. The crowd oblige, gently swaying along with the beat.
Behind the stage is a huge light box that makes the place look like a dingy club mixed with the 80s Top of the Pops studio. Rival Bones’ logo is projected onto it, setting the stage. Rival Bones make their entrance confidently as James Whitehouse ploughs into the meaty riff of ‘Want You Madly.’
I don’t think I’ve often seen anyone own the stage quite so much as James Whitehouse. He parades his riffs across the space nodding enthusiastically and interacting with the crowd, many of whom are headbanging along. Clearly, they have a lot of established fans here. I recognise one from the Hyena Kill gig where Rival Bones supported. He says to me “Told you! Once you see them, you’ll always be back” and I can’t deny it.
James introduces ‘Robot Girl’, their latest single, and blasts it out. At times, it sounds tribal – ably backed by the drummer who gets a lot of sound out of a relatively paired down kit with only one rack tom. In fact, to say that this two-piece produce a lot of sound is an understatement.
I later geek out with James about what pedals he uses and it’s a Pog for those who are interested, patched between a guitar amp and a bass amp, providing that heavy bottom end that is their trademark.
The music grooves and people are dancing. It’s hard not to. All too soon they lay into set closer, ‘You Know Who You Are’, and go out with a blast.
All photos: Dave Hudson.