Live Reviews

Published on October 28th, 2015 | by Nigel Cartner

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Left Lane Cruiser w/Bees of Burden @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester – 23-10-15

If you listened to the Sonic Bandwagon ‘Whisky Blues Rock’ special a couple of weeks ago, then you’ll know that tonight’s Left Lane Cruiser gig was an absolute must attend. Being seasoned pros of the dirty blues rock scene, LLC released their sixth album, ‘Dirty Spliff Blues’, back in June with an addition to their line-up in the form of Joe Bent on bass, who joins original pioneers, Freddie J IV (aka Joe Evans) on vocals and slide guitar, and Pete Dio on drums.

Touring Europe yet again illustrates just how popular LLC are, and this new addition to the duo shows how they are evolving and still creating the kind of cut throat blues that capture the essence of one of music’s greatest genres.

Their gig at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen promised to be another thumping performance that could quite easily transform any civilised ‘couple of drinks’ into a wild onslaught going on well into the night. Given this was my first time seeing them, I was fully prepared for such an endeavour.

BUT…As proven time and time again, the Sonic Bandwagon mantra of ‘Always See the Support Act’ paid dividends, and this was perhaps one of the more gripping ones I’ve ever witnessed. Bees of Burden take to the stage, and from the moment the first meaty and rumbling riff is twanged in conjunction with the dulcet howls of the harmonica on opening track, ‘Anchored Down Deep’,  I am well and truly immersed into what the band are firing at us. I then knew my decision not to drive tonight was the correct one as a raging thirst for alcohol enfolded such was the impact of their raw, boisterous tones!

This was some of the dirtiest and bombarding live blues I’ve ever heard, sounding straight from the gut of the American South. An imposing array of thunderous, rumbling rhythms and piercing slide guitar that’s foot stomping in nature was the perfect appetizer for such a night, and it was clear that the crowd were just as impressed as the floor shook in tandem with everyone’s timely stomps.

Lead singer, Stu Henn cuts a figure straight from that Southern region; wearing a hat and donning a bushy beard, perched on a stool, wailing into his 60s style mic, sounding like a cross between a latter years Jim Morrison and Seasick Steve. When you add his harmonica to the mix then you’d be forgiven for thinking that these guys had tagged along with LLC from America. It was only towards the end of the set that I found out they were from Manchester, which was astounding yet refreshing to see from a local band.

Songs such as ‘Ramblin Boots’, ‘Sexy Changed Man’ were other highlights, but if I weren’t impressed enough already, then their cover of ‘John the Revelator’ (from ‘Sons of Anarchy’) was the whisky flavoured icing on the wild turkey soaked cake.

This was an electrifying performance, and it’s not often I hear a band for the first time live and be left completely in awe of them. If only the blues/whisky radio show would’ve been a week later then Bees of Burden would’ve definitely been on that playlist, but I’m sure they’ll feature on the show soon enough!

One band who certainly featured on that specific show was Left Lane Cruiser.  With the crowd still reeling, there was little time to waste before they came ambling onto the stage, probably the first band I’ve ever seen begin their set ten minutes earlier than their allocated time. Hailing all the way from Fort Wayne, Indiana they’re clearly pumped up for tonight, full of energy and raucous in their loud American dialogue when they speak and holler to the crowd in between songs. They hit fifth gear straight from the off and the bluesy slide guitar is relentless for a full hour, sounding like a car engine roaring through the roots of the Mississippi outback. Their cover of ‘Money For Nothing’ by ‘Dire Straits’ was simply brilliant, a song I never thought could be reimagined given its legendary status, but LLC transform it to suit their own brand of rock n roll.

The consistent assault of blues rock phenomena makes the trips to the bar more frequent as they play a selection of tracks from their past and latest album, each track seeming to take the wildness and pace up a notch till they reach mass hysteria.

They sound like three guys who fought their way through a dangerous Louisiana swamp, then found a crate of beer and a selection of illegal spirits leftover from prohibition next to two guitars and a drum kit in some desolate cabin in the woods, and then decided to drink and write about the whole experience. It really is that filthy and depraved, but simply subliminal, drenched in the strongest moonshine imaginable.

From Led Zeppelin, to Creedence Clearwater Revival to ZZ Top, and back to rootsy 50s/60s blues, LLC take elements of the greats and throw it all together in a wild cocktail of hedonistic southern whisky rock that takes you to the bottom of the barrel and back again.

Judging by the adulation shown to Freddie J IV at the end of the show, it’s fair to say that LLC are regarded as one of the finest bands in the blues rock genre at the moment. This performance, along with Bees of Burden’s capped off a truly pulsating night, and one that will live long in the memory for fans of this coolest of genres.

Bees of Burden – SoundCloud, Facebook

Left Lane Cruiser – Facebook

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About the Author

Nigel is a huge fan of music from the 60s and 70s with an emphasis on rock, psych, blues and indie. This spreads to music of the same genre into the modern era. Being a Manchester lad he also has an affiliation with local music past and present. He has also recently released his debut novel, 'Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas' which is available on amazon or njcartner.com



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