Black State Highway: Live at the 12 Bar, London
Well, what can I say? I finally managed to get down to see Black State Highway a few weeks ago and boy did they live up to my expectations, unfortunately due to computer issues I have been unable to share my experience until now. Since I picked up their self titled album last year I was sold on this vibrant rock 5 piece and I had been desperate to see them live. With no local dates on the horizon it took the happy coincidence of a boys weekend in London to make it happen. If you are unfamiliar with the band check out my earlier interview with guitar guru Olie Trethewey to get an insight into Black State Highway and what makes them tick.
A little on the outskirts of London the 12 Bar was not a venue that I was familiar with and the layout didn't seem to lend itself that well to live music, the place was kind of one huge 'L' shape with plenty of nooks and crannies where the sound could get lost (although it would be perfect to enjoy a couple of beers). The main stage is pretty much overlooked by a large balcony area which I thought may have killed the sound but once Liva had her vocal levels sorted the sound actually carried very well and a few songs into the set she soon had a whole 'upstairs vs downstairs' thing going on. In fact you can probably tell from these photos just how much the whole band interact with the crowd.
Crammed onto the small stage the band had an air of confidence about them but also a real sense of fun, here is a group of friends who are not only great at what they do but also appear to be enjoying every minute of it. Personally there is nothing better than seeing a band who love playing their music in a live setting, I think I may have been grinning as much as they were as my ears were hit with riff after riff of dirty blues rock. It's hard to pick out one or two songs from such a strong set but hearing personal favourites like 'Trouble', 'Conclusion' and 'Sacrifice' brought to life had me rocking out and I certainly wasn't the only one. We were promised a hot, sweaty and rocking night by Liva and that was exactly what we got, evidenced by Harry the drummer going topless for much of the set! The band got all of the crowd on side pretty quickly, a bit of banter mixed in with countless tunes just made for a top night of music.
It's great to see so many excellent local and unsigned bands out there at the moment and Black State Highway are in my opinion up there with the very best of what the UK has to offer. These pictures don't do them justice and can only convey a small amount of their energy, Liva, Olie, Harry, Gordon and Yonnis certainly know how to put on a show so keep an eye out on www.blackstatehighway.co.uk for tour dates. If you haven't already listened to the album then we suggest you do so as soon as you can, it is available on Amazon and itunes and you can always catch one of their tunes on the ABOG playlist on Spotify or iTunes.