Sunday evening saw Boston soul legend Barrence Whitfield hit the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds with his backing band the Savages as part of their current UK tour, in support of their new album ‘Soul Flowers of Titan’. Support came in the form of Kolars, also from the U.S.
Opening the show was Kolars, a two-piece hailing from Los Angeles, comprised of guitarist and vocalist Rob Kolar and percussionist Lauren Brown. Their sound is described as a mixture of Desert Disco, Space Blues and Glamabilly.
It was clear from the first few moments of the set that we were watching an extremely authentic and well-versed act. The monstrous, raspy tone of lead vocalist Rob rung out in a slick 50s inspired manner. ‘Turn out the Lights’, from their recent self-titled album, showcased the band’s penchant for groovy, almost punk style guitar riffs adorned with a variety of influences which created a sound that was simply impossible to resist.
One thing that I find particularly exciting about live music is that you’re never quite sure what you’re going to see next – that something inventive and unfamiliar could be just around the corner – and Kolars definitely delivered in this aspect. Not only did percussionist Lauren use her feet to tap dance rhythms atop a bass drum, she also used her entire body to manipulate a stand-up drum kit to transform her movements into a variety of beats and sounds. It was absolutely spectacular to watch and gave the band a distinctive edge that made them gleam with a certain originality that is not easily forgotten.
Unsurprisingly, the crowd became completely enamoured by their captivating performance as the set progressed, with the memorable tune ‘Dangerous’ being a particular highlight. At one point, when asked by the band how their night was going, a punter humorously replied “All the better for seeing you!” – A statement that appropriately sums up the performance. This was a truly top class set from a great new band that I look forward to seeing again soon.
After a swift changeover and a sudden burst of additional attendees coming through the venue doors to join the already healthy crowd, it was time for Barrence Whitfield & the Savages to take to the stage.
Oozing with class and expertise, Barrence delighted the audience with an immersive musical journey through his prolific and long-standing career.
Playing ‘Slowly Losing My Mind’ from the newly released album ‘Soul Flowers of Titan’ offered an insight into the new material, a song full of the classic Barrence Whitfield vocal melodies and thought provoking lyrical content. The other new songs performed, including ‘Pain’ and ‘Tingling’, demonstrated that the band still has the capacity for new classics to emerge, offering fresh ideas and musical refinement without compromising the accomplished Whitfield sound heard on previous albums.
The new songs blended seamlessly with the older material and the entire band as a live unit was on fire. The drums cut perfectly through the backdrop of guitars, whilst the groovy, progressive rock-esque basslines perfectly accentuated the blistering sounds of alto sax player Tom Quartulli, whose impressive playing made for several set highlights.
The performance was thrilling and joyous throughout, with set staples ‘The Cornerman’, ‘Bloody Mary’, ‘Willie Meehan’ and ‘Blackjack’ ensuring the crowd danced, sang along and fully embraced the uplifting atmosphere, filling the venue as each moment passed. Having been in the game for so long, it is both inspiring and refreshing to see such an artist remain relentless in exploring his craft and continuing to entertain audiences worldwide.
Ending the set with ‘Bip Bop Bip’ and ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ proved to be a suitable climax to a fantastic evening and left the audience wilfully danced-out. The vocal delivery during this part of the set was nothing short of magnificent, and we can only hope at this point that Barrence furthers his career into yet another decade.
The remaining shows on this tour are as follows:
Wed 16 – Esquires, Bedford
Thurs 17 – Boileroom, Guildford
Fri 18 – Railway, Southend
Sat 19 – The Garage, London
Be sure to check out one of the remaining concerts!
Similarly, the new album is available to order now from www.bloodshotrecords.com
Gary writes for Leeds Living on contemporary music, being an avid goer of gigs and a supporter of local talent.