I have been listening to the music of Kris Barras since his debut album release back in 2016.
Unfortunately to the nature globally of the last two years of the pandemic I have not had the opportunity to experience actually seeing him live.A few months ago I had provisionally secured a ticket to see him play a local date in Manchester as support to Black Stone Cherry but that fell through at the 11th hour for personal reasons. I was fortunate enough to receive an advance link to his new album “Death Valley Paradise”which duly motivated me into placing an advance order(plus a tshirt).On seeing the rescheduled tour dates for the new album included both Liverpool and Manchester I felt determined that I would finally get the chance to see him live…Then another curveball…The announcement that the tour supports would be changeable give me a further decision to make….
On seeing that the Nottingham show had both These Wicked Rivers (whom I love)and also the much vaunted Florence Black it was mutually decided that that show which was further away would have to be the one visited.Setting off on a unusually sunny Saturday we decided to visit the legendary Rock City venue in Nottingham for my debut visit to a musical venue which has been around since the eighties,much heard of but until now never previously visited by myself. Eventually we found parking space sufficiently close to the venue,and successfully negotiated the seemingly never ending queue of fans as we searched for the venue’s boxoffice.Quickly passing through that as we had heard that the first band was already starting their set.
Opening the evening’s musical proceedings were These Wicked Rivers, a band that I had been sufficiently impressed enough a few months previously in Manchester to purchase a band logo embossed beanie hat. This UK wide tour as support to Kris Barras Band has undoubtedly given them the chance to continue promoting their debut album in a relentless course of touring which sees them never off the road.Embracing the ever increasing popularity of Southern rock this Derby based outfit are an engaging live prospect-Playing in a quite bizarre living room stage set up adds a quite unique background to their musical delivery.Openers on a three band bill unfortunately means a shorter set than what I would have liked but I absolutely love this band-even if they tread a musical path which I have not previously been known to travel down.Another great set but unfortunately I found that their slower ballad song “Don’t Pray for me”as a set closer slightly suffered in terms of vocal delivery from the rest of the set. However the accompanying guitar solo by Day managed to adequately rescue any slight vocal failings and still managed to make it my personal favourite of the band’s complete musical catalogue.
Short but oh so sweet Setlist:
Shine On, Force of Nature, When The War Is Won, Evergreen, Don’t Pray For Me.
The billings musical filling was provided by Planet Rock endorsed Welsh rockers Florence Black .Apart from the bands aforementioned current single which nobody can currently escape from nor should anyone actually want to ..I am relatively new to the bands music.So I was curious to discover what they were all about.Would the current hype be justified…|? Suffice to say opening track “Zulu ” from the band’s debut album-starting the set as it kicks off the album quickly sets the pace as it powerfully drives the live musical juggernaut.What’s surprising is just how heavy the band are live,when compared to the relatively lightweight radio tune “Sun and Moon”which brings the set to a close.Definitely a complete contrast as the band also pay homage to another Welsh rock band Budgie with their cover of Breadfan-as made more popular in recent years by Metallica also covering the tune.
Zulu, The Deep End, Bird On A Chain, Pierrepoint, So Far Away, Bread Fan, Sun & Moon
Onto that much and very keenly anticipated debut viewing of Kris Barras (and his band) .Building up anticipation with the entry of the other band mates singly to an atmospheric introduction.Anticipation was building in an almost sold out Nottingham Rock City .With echos of his former career-Kris enters with a ring walk of his own-arms raised to an enthusiastic and rapturous reception as if he’s actually about to do battle.Heralded by an explosion of smoke cannons,which quickly becomes a recurring theme throughout the set as the band crash straight into “Hail Mary “from 2018,s “The Divine and Dirty”release pausing briefly to allow the raucous Saturday night Rock City crowd to sing the chorus straight back to the stage.
Bass player Kelpie is a complete blur of energy as the photographers in the pit at the front of the stage struggle to pin him down.High kicking and covering every inch of the stage his behaviour is in complete contrast to his compatriot Josiah on stage right,who prefers to stay fairly motionless though no less effective in providing both backing vocals and keyboards.Laying down a powerful sonic drum sound but equally inconspicuous is Billy Hammett.Latest single Dead Horses is next up in the set and the track even has its own T.shirt which my girlfriend picks up at the merchandise after the show.Live it is delivered with a much heavier edge than the album version.The tempo drops in terms of style for the next song ‘Rock N Roll Running Through My Veins’ from 2016.That contrast between those two tracks illustrates the diversity of Kris Barras and the music that he plays.Mixing it up by dipping into his back catalogue and styles freely at will could have led to a disjointed setlist but instead the opposite is true as there is a smooth seamless transition from one song to the next as it flows rather than stutter.
“Wake me when it’s over”from the newest album is my personal favourite from that release.Im delighted when it makes an appearance early in the set as its soft and uplifting message of positivity rings around the tightly packed venue.A harsher song about relationship toxicity heralds a mellow acoustic interlude as stools appear on the Rock City stage.A couple of stripped back numbers as an earlier song “Propane”makes an appearance along with an incredible version of Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” The latter features an emotional and heartfelt chorus from the audience.
Just when I feel the emotional draw from a well executed cover version-Kris ramps up the emotion with his own dedication to his father “Watching Over Me’-definitely not a dry in the house as several hells angels type big and burly guys in the audience are seen to be clearly visibly moved by the song.This was actually the first track that Kris wrote.They were not alone -as my girlfriend later confessed in the car on the way home to actually having experienced her own “personal moment”during that particular track.The song ends with some audience participation through phone/lighters being raised
Building it back up again without a pause for breath as its back to heavy and powerfully executed rock music over the course of the next few tracks-all accompanied by those ever present smoke cannons..Ending the regular set with the anthemic My Paradise which allows the entire crowd to belt out the chorus including that “word”as I note a pensioner rocking out with a teen girl who the sway and motion of the crowd had located beside him.In conclusion Kris Barras band music-unifying generations.
Obviously there would be an encore-Lovers and Losers brings the musical proceedings to a final close-to be honest I could have listened to the band play all night-sadly it wasn’t to be…
A fantastic evening with three great bands that all worked effectively in a brilliant musical package.Finally ticked off that wishlist to see him live -definitely worth the long car journey to Nottingham on a Saturday night. Definitely looking forward to seeing them again.
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