The London Souls Celebrate New Music at The Bowery BallroomApril 8th, 2015
The London Souls – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2015
The London Souls used to be a trio, so I have to admit I was a little nervous when they showed up to The Bowery Ballroom last night without a bassist. But the duo put on a set massive enough that you could have sworn you were watching them at a summer festival. The hometown show was in celebration of the long-awaited release of the band’s second LP, Here Come the Girls, an album that was written years ago but was delayed as singer and guitarist Tash Neal fought back from a near-fatal car accident.
Neal isn’t the still, silent type, like Gary Clark Jr. He emotes as he plays—every note Neal sang or strummed was accompanied by a lip curl, a head shake or an eyebrow raise. His body swayed with each bent string or blue note. It’s the kind of thing that makes you feel the emotion behind the music rather than interpreting it in your mind. Chris St. Hilaire’s drumming was sort of the opposite of that, machine-like and furious but a loose style that doesn’t sacrifice precision. He almost didn’t move above his shoulders—if your view was blocked, he could have been typing an essay or knitting a scarf for all you knew. But from the shoulders down, he was a blur of sticks, wrists and elbows.
St. Hilaire struck his drum set hard enough that it sounded like we were listening to a rhythm from a different decade. It was proof that his drumming is the reason (as much, if not more than Neal’s abilities) that the band draws comparisons to Zeppelin, Cream and the Experience. That’s just a few ways of saying that even as a duo, the London Souls still rock harder than most bands you hear. Their now more unapologetic sound is tailor-made for their louder tracks, like “Steady Are You Ready,” but even their more melodic tunes, like “When I’m With You,” still hold up. The duo might sound a little cleaner when they’re accompanied by a third musician onstage, but a clean sound is overrated. Two is all they need. —Sean O’Kane | @Sokane1