Review: Brother & Bones – Louisiana, Bristol – Friday 18th October

Brother & Bones - Photo by Will Fahy -

Brother & Bones – Photo by Will Fahy –

To be alive and to be in the acoustic/alt-rockers Brother & Bones must be pretty good these days. Playing their biggest tour to date, having just released their ‘To Be Alive’ EP, and currently moving towards the unveiling of their debut album, expected sometime in 2014, things are coming to the boil for this captivating bunch. Having built their reputation on their live performances, supporting Ben Howard and Feeder along the way, Bristol’s Louisiana is understandably expectant as these buccaneering folk troubadours return to the South West. Mixing the intense freak outs of a Rage Against The Machine or Black Crowes with subtler tender touches of a Ray LaMontagne, they shape a bluegrass sound with a modern twist and find a potent balance that works. Current EP title track “To Be Alive” perfectly embodies this juxtaposition of styles sliding as it does from its energetic spine-tingling chorus to melodic conclusion of ghostly “coos” that could bring a Hell’s Angel to tears. Now based in London but with roots in the South West, they are led by Richard Thomas, a slim Gennaro Gattuso lookalike with dark hair/beard and piercing eyes who struts around the stage, his shirt undone exposing a gilded crucifix, he exudes a fiery energy that his Italian likeness would be proud of. Thomas’ soaring vocals are backed by fellow Cornish man Simon Robinson on bass, James Willard on lead guitar, Yiannis Sachinis – a bull of a man with a heavy foot that could give the Elephant man a run for his money – and Robin Howell-Sprent on rattle snake laced percussion. They are all wrapped in a visual chic reminiscent of a more rustic Kings of Leon that only adds to their charisma. “Burn this city down” Thomas screams on the opening salvo of the night, and it feels like a statement of intent. Emotive-reflective rock is certainly their métier. Poignant without being contrived they run a line that is very hard to do effectively but they pull it off expertly – this especially the case on tracks like “Your Revolution”, “Gold & Silver” and “Back to Shore”. “Anyone seen us before?” enquires Thomas. The statement is greeted by cheers from the large crowd that emphasise that this is more like a home-coming for the band than a venture onto foreign ground. It should be noted that this loyalty has not come about by accident or even through mainstream radio support but rather has been built on intense touring by the band over the last few years – something they rightly take pride in. The predominantly female crowd are enthusiastic throughout but special adulation is saved for previous EP lead tracks “I See Red” and particularly “For All We Know”. With its instantly accessible chorus and fine harmonies it rises to an epic conclusion that sees band and crowd entwined on singing duties. “Give me something to fear,” Thomas implores as their encore reaches its climax on “Don’t Forget to Pray”. With performances like this it would appear Brothers and Bones presently have nothing to fear. Brother and Bones’ latest EP ‘To be Alive’ is out now. Their UK tour continues until mid-November. Find out more at While you’re here… The Fix is delighted to support independent film and to be involved with comedy/drama series The Awkward Conversations We Have.  Here’s the opener, titled, Son We’re Swingers: