HIS LORDSHIP + KITTY LIV – THE HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 15.11.23
OK I have to honestly hold my hands up and say from the off, that up until a few hours before His Lordship’s appearance on stage on the first floor of The Hope & Ruin in Brighton, that I was genuinely attending to go and see another show in town at different venue not that far away. However, one of my promoter contacts seriously flagged up His Lordship and strongly suggested that I should attend. Well with people like that in the know, then it would be rude not to go wouldn’t it! Thus I headed along Queens Road, purchased some liquid refreshment and went upstairs and met up with my colleagues in order to see what joys tonight would bring.
The support act entertained us for half an hour (see below) and then at 9:21pm it was the turn of the headlining act. But who exactly are His Lordship? Well to start with, they were conceived during lockdown and are purveyors of gut wrenching pure rock and roll. On record they are a duo, but for live work they expand to a trio. They are fronted by James Walbourne who holds down present guitar roles for none other than the Pretenders as well as the Pogues, and accompanying him is Copenhagen born Kristoffer Sonne (Chrissie Hynde, Willie Nelson). Their debut single ‘All Cranked Up’ hit the 6 Music B-List last summer, and was followed by ‘Buzzkill’, an angular, twisted ear worm produced by David Wrench (Courtney Barnett, XX, Frank Ocean).
His Lordship sold out their debut UK tour in 2022, which included a gig in Brighton a few days after ‘The Great Escape‘ which we were busy collating at the time. They then joined Jason Isbell on a sell out European tour culminating with a roof raising show at London’s Eventim Apollo. Earlier this year the band also headed out on their biggest headline tour to date, taking in 12 cities, including a show at The Prince Albert on 15th April which was watched by Chrissie Hynde – Review HERE. Last month the duo released ‘Jackie Works For The NHS’ and have now announced that their self-titled debut long player will drop in January next year.
Tonight at The Hope & Ruin, the trio (including bass player Dave Page) grace the stage at 9:21pm and are looking slick and smart in their black suits, black ties, black shoes and topped off with crisp white shirts. Word has most certainly got out about these guys as the venue is literally rammed for the duration of the 18 tune 64 minute set. The trio kicked off with the Ramones-esque title track from their 2022 EP, namely, ‘All Cranked Up’ and the gauntlet was duly laid down. If it’s adrenalin filled edgy rock’n’roll music that will topple The Godfathers off of their crown, then this is very much what tonight’s menu has in store for all of us!
We are positioned at the head of the crowd in front of Dave, who is certainly putting his Maya electric bass through its paces, especially during track two, ‘Joyboy’, the first of at least eight tracks that will be appearing on the forthcoming album. This track oozed with rumbly bass notes that sounded rather like Suicide’s ‘Ghost Rider’, prior to the Scissor Sisters-esque sounding vocals kicking in. Another trio of tracks that will be found on the forthcoming platter were thrown at us next, these being ‘I’m So Bored Of Being Bored’; new single ‘Jackie Works For The NHS’ (which James dedicated to NHS workers) and sounding rather Stranglers-esque; followed by the Stray Cats vibe of ‘Rock Fall Echo Dust’.
The energy of the trio is very admirable, with charismatic vocalist frontman James already dripping sweat as his hand is almost a blur on the strings of his Gibson as he delivers delicious crunching guitar riffs, and bespectacled Kristoffer’s drumkit is receiving a real good hiding! The tempo was slowed down for selection six, which was ‘Lonely Saturday Night’, which sounded very much like Elvis, Presley that is, not Costello. I’m not 100% sure but I reckon that this is a cover of the 1959 Don French single. ‘Pixelated Polly’ followed and tension increased, after which there was another oldie cover in the form of Link Wray’s 1963 instrumental ‘Run Chicken Run’, which will be appearing on His Lordships album in January. It was covers aplenty in this section as their homage to Jack Scott’s 1958 ‘The Way I Walk’ classic, which was famously later covered by The Cramps in 1983, and was tonight delivered with much gusto and their reward being the loudest applause to date.
The catchy ‘Buzzkill’ with its higher pitched Darkness style vocals was up next. ‘The Repenter’ from last year’s ‘All Cranked Up’ EP was the trio’s next choice. Interestingly my brain was telling me that this had elements akin to theme tunes found on 1970’s kids TV programmes, and then it was adding that James’ vocals were in Les Gray (Mud) ‘Lonely This Christmas’ vibe. Therefore there was a Glam Rock feel to this cut, with its explosive ending. It was all change for next tune ‘My Brother Is Any Only Child’, which saw Kristoffer on lead vocals and his drumming position for this tune was occupied by bassist Dave. Kristoffer was really going for it! He climbed on top of his bass drum and swung the mic around on its long lead and then jumped off and grabbed a megaphone and used that for a line or two. Steppenwolf was being signalled to my brain for this one!
The guys reverted to the normal positions and carried on with their take on 1959’s ‘Sleep Walk’ by brothers Santo & Johnny, with its Hawaiian sounding slide guitar action, which was mimicked by James with his vibrato tailpiece. Think of something akin to The Shadows and you’ll get it. Prior to playing this number, he dedicated it to Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan who has been in intensive care for the past few months after he was diagnosed with viral encephalitis last year.
His Lordship’s next selection was 2022’s ‘I Live In The City’ from the ‘All Cranked Up’ EP, which James informed us was penned as a result of what he can see from his home in Camden Town. This certainly reminded me of Chuck Berry’s 1956 smash ‘Roll Over Beethoven’. ‘Catcall’ was their next selection. This instrumental witnessed James playing his guitar at 100mph and the tune incorporated elements of the ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’ nursery rhyme. It really seemed like the three instruments themselves were talking to each other, without human assistance! A set highlight! They rocked out with ‘I Am In Amsterdam’ and realised that it was easier not to try and fight their way past the crowd, in order to try and get back again, but to simply stand by the side of the stage and watch us all holler for more! James’ response to this “Thank you, you’ve been the best audience so far”!.
Both the final numbers were culled from their ‘Play Rock’N’Roll Volume One’ EP. The first being the traditional rock’n’roll skiffle style hip swinging ‘Cruisin’, where the katz swang, especially Dave with his rumbly bass. The second (and closing number) was ‘Red Hot’ which was originally released in 1955 by William Robert Emerson or also known as Billy “The Kid” Emerson. At 10:25pm they were done! Soaked in sweat having given it their all. Fabulous stuff…..A must see band! As my friend Jules stated at the very end “And that’s what it must have been like in the very early days of rock’n’roll”. No arguing with that!
James Walbourne – guitar (the Pretenders, the Pogues, The Rails)
Kristoffer Sonne – drums (Chrissie Hynde, Willie Nelson)
Dave Page –bass
His Lordship setlist:
‘All Cranked Up’ (from 2022 ‘All Cranked Up’ EP)
‘Joyboy’ (from forthcoming 2024 ‘His Lordship’ album)
‘I’m So Bored Of Being Bored’ (from forthcoming 2024 ‘His Lordship’ album)
‘Jackie Works For The NHS’ (from forthcoming 2024 ‘His Lordship’ album)
‘Rock Fall Echo Dust’ (from forthcoming 2024 ‘His Lordship’ album)
‘Lonely Saturday Night’ (Don French cover) (unreleased)
‘Pixelated Polly’ (from forthcoming 2024 ‘His Lordship’ album)
‘Run Chicken Run’ (Link Wray cover) (from 2022 ‘Rock’N’Roll Is Not For Everyone’ album)
‘The Way I Walk’ (The Cramps cover) (from 2022 ‘Play Rock’N’Roll Volume One’ EP)
‘Buzzkill’ (from forthcoming 2024 ‘His Lordship’ album)
‘The Repenter’ (from 2022 ‘All Cranked Up’ EP)
‘My Brother Is Any Only Child’ (from forthcoming 2024 ‘His Lordship’ album)
‘Sleep Walk’ (Santo & Johnny cover) (unreleased)
‘I Live In The City’ (from 2022 ‘All Cranked Up’ EP)
‘Catcall’ (from forthcoming 2024 ‘His Lordship’ album)
‘I Am In Amsterdam’ (from 2022 ‘All Cranked Up’ EP)
‘Cruisin’ (from 2022 ‘Play Rock’N’Roll Volume One’ EP)
‘Red Hot’ (from 2022 ‘Play Rock’N’Roll Volume One’ EP)
Support this evening came from Kitty Liv Durham, who with her siblings as well as opening on tour for Richard Hawley, has also done so for Coldplay, Razorlight, Stereophonics and others. Kitty also recently supported Damian Lewis and was part of his band when they played The Old Market in Hove at the end of September. This evening however it’s just her by herself performing eight self-penned tunes, lasting 31 minutes from 8:30pm to 9:01pm, along with her acoustic guitar and mouth organ (harmonica) to get the party started.
Although there is a setlist on the floor, Kitty doesn’t exactly stick to it and omits tune one ‘The Doctor’ and thus launches into the second tune on the list, this being ‘I’ve Got My Neck On The Line’, which Kitty informs us is about “people who can’t decide about shit”. At this point I would guess that the first floor performance room is half full. As Kitty’s set is relatively quiet, those folk nattering to the rear by the bar can be heard mumbling away, which does detract somewhat. In fact this carried on throughout her whole set, bar her closing number. More on that shortly.
Kitty’s second choice was ‘The Sun And The Rain’ which was about relationships, and was swiftly followed by ‘I’m Coming Up’ which was “about falling in love whilst on drugs”. After which we had ‘Lately’, which was penned “about a shitty boyfriend”. Kitty got the audience onside by encouraging them to sing “whooaa” when given the nod. Choice five was the more bluesy ‘The River That Flows’ and was about when you aren’t in control with something and you have to go with the flow, or as Kitty put it is “about dealing with shit that is out of your control”.
A change from the setlist was next with the delivery of ‘Sweet Dreams’, which Kitty informs us is her new single and that she has only played with a band before, but tonight is giving it a go as a solo act. This replaced a track shown as ‘Feeling Of Wonder’. The penultimate track was ‘Passing You By’, which was a song about walking past her old boyfriend’s flat. To sign off, rather than the bluey numbers that she had been playing on her guitar, Kitty informed us that she was going to put her guitar down and commenced the final tune ‘Keep Your Head Up High’, acapella and then Kitty picked up a small mouth organ on the floor in front of her and she seriously put it through its paces and this totally silenced the crowd who were by now very impressed with this. This was a great way to sign off and the punters showed their appreciation accordingly.
Kitty Liv setlist:
‘Neck On The Line’
‘The Sun And The Rain’
‘I’m Coming Up’
‘The River That Flows’
‘Passing You By’
‘Keep Your Head Up High’