A Little History
When Rivers Meet are a relatively new band featuring husband and wife duo Aaron and Grace Bond. Formed in 2019 they have already released 2 EPs and 2 albums and have garnered much praise and won a good number of awards from both the blues and rock worlds.
The last time they were in Scotland they were supporting King King (review of that concert HERE) and only playing as a 2 piece. This time around they have a band, that being a bassist and drummer to fill out their sound. What a great rhythm section they are, so much so you could see the love and admiration from them both. They also made sure both musicians got to solo and have fun whilst showing their chops to the audience.
Talking of the audience, well they were rather loud! I think Grace and Aaron were pretty stunned with the singer (Grace) looking overwhelmed at times by the response. For what is essentially a new band they were greeted like all-conquering heroes, perhaps this is due to how the band have been playing regular gigs online, chatting with their fans etc.
Having a very good social media interaction with the folks who follow them means there is an extremely strong connection between the audience and the couple, which has led to a strong desire to see and meet them. They come over as a very likeable couple who are obviously having the time of their lives doing what they really want to do.
Onto The Show
The setlist was made up of music from all their releases so we got a taste of everything. They opened with a couple of tracks from their debut album in “Did I Break The Law” and “Walking On The Wire“. The show and music started up with just the rhythm section onstage. As the groovy stomping riff came in the couple entered the stage with Aaron already playing his guitar. Both of the songs are dirty blues with huge choruses which the audience certainly knew well from all the singing along.
Groove and rhythm is important, it is ‘feel’ music to move along with. At the end of the latter, they all gathered around the drummer (if I caught it correctly his first name is Jamie, apologies if wrong) for a big rocking finish. Just to make sure everyone could get to appreciate the new guys they then allowed the bassist Roger Innes to kick off the song “My Baby Says That He Loves Me” where the dual vocals really started to shine. The guys used to play some Americana-style music and this had hints of that in it.
Chatting With Folks With Strong Accents
Grace (and to an extent Aaron) chatted quite a bit with stories and explanations but also had fun with the accent in Glasgow. Early doors she was saying how she was “trying to work out your accent” as the crowd shouted things towards the stage. For “Battleground” Grace explained how the song was written during lockdown and for a while they wondered if they would ever play it to a live audience. This is a song that kicks some ass already, but with bass and drums pounding away it was even more powerful.
After a few songs when fully warmed up they turned their attention to the new album, although not before Grace remarked due to the audience reaction “I think this is gonna be a good night“ to which Aaron said “Oh yes!” The first cut they chose was the ballad from the album Saving Grace which she explained beforehand they wrote to counterbalance all the “bangers” they had put down. They wanted the new album to be a much more rocking affair but still needed light and shade. You could have heard a pin drop where I was whilst they played “Don’t Tell Me Goodbye“. Another with beautiful vocal harmonies going on.
“Free Man” featured slide guitar heavily and swung along to great effect. The drop-down to allow the chorus was lovely. “Lost And Found” we were informed was the story of a barmaid and punter in a pub that played a lot of the band Thunder which seemed to be their story of meeting many years ago. As they are huge fans of Thunder they used “Love Walked In” before they hit the stage. The chorus suggests someone should “run, run, run for your life“, although I am not sure about which one is warning the other! This is a real infectious track that got the crowd moving and singing.
Laughter On And Off Stage
“Innocence Of Youth” the title track of their second EP saw Aaron bringing out his box guitar. He used it quite a few times. On this occasion, someone in the crowd shouted: “go oan yersel” (in English of course simply “go on yourself”). Now at that point, Grace was bent down having a drink from her glass. The poor lass nearly bloody choked laughing. This was an absolute stomper on the night, the way they dropped it down to vocals only and then have the slide come crashing back in, along with the chorus of “feel it in my bones” made this particularly good fun.
They then took things down again for a couple of songs starting with a simple and effective rendition of “Bury My Body” where just the 2 of them stood together at one mike and with one acoustic guitar for the most part (the violin came out nearer the end of the song) Standing facing each other they harmonized charmingly. They then had the drummer move onto the keyboards to perform “Tomorrow” where their voices were the focal point once again.
There was quite a long chatted intro before “Friend Of Mine” where they explained how long it took them to work out what they should do musically. It was of course simple. “Make the music that we would want to listen to” rather than trying to please others. The box guitar came out once again. Grace explained that on the streamed events fans kept saying how much they liked hearing it. Also having only the 3 strings “things can’t really go wrong” to which Aaron quickly pointed out “not necessarily” whilst laughing away! The track was wonderful, with an eerie vibe and an ethereal vocal performance from Grace. The emotional fragility of the vocal was quite bewitching.
From here on in it was upbeat lively rocking tracks which quite often meant crowd involvement. “We Fly Free” turned into an epic piece with Grace going walkabout into the crowd, resulting in Aaron asking on the mike “has anyone seen my wife” then adding “if you get near the bar I’ll have a pint” to which he then corrected himself by saying “actually being here I should ask for a dram” which got a laugh and a cheer.
Also adding to the length of the piece were both bass and drum solos. They were actually fun pieces with groove and humour, clever and playful, especially when the 2 combined and the drummer was doing all sorts of odd times and fills causing the bassist to try and work out what was next. Both were smiling away, as were Grace and Aaron who in particular standing to the side of the drums was looking on with obvious admiration at the guys joining them on this tour. “He’ll Drive You Crazy” still featured box guitar. My favourite part was when they just dropped it down completely to feature her voice and some gentle drum work in the background.
Charm Offensive To Encore
Before playing “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” they talked about the joy and surprise at the awards they had just won via Planet Rock with Grace joking that they had beaten Iron Maiden to one so it looked like Planet Rock’s machinery had obviously broken down. Being Glasgow someone shouted “who the fuck are they” causing laughter onstage and for Grace to remark “Now I understood THAT!”
Of course, the song rocked and stomped like a bastard even more than the album version! “Want Your Love” was a mad singalong with the audience. The looks on the band’s faces as the Oran Mor roared back at them was joyous. There had been plenty of chat and with the audience bantering with the both of them meant that perhaps they had lost track of the time. There is quite a strict curfew in the venue so it looked like the night was over but they managed to beg and charm the powers that be there to play one more song.
Grace suggested they should play the song twice as fast as normal, then realising the band might take that literally looked around with a panicked expression and went “no please don’t do that” to the band. They then stormed through “Testify” to finish the night off.
Support On The Tour
Support came from Welsh slide guitarist Troy Redfern who played solo on the night, just him and 2 guitars which he switched between. There was such energy in his performance working up a hell of a sweat as he stomped the stage with some downright dirty-sounding blues riffs.
He utilised pedals to keep riffs going whilst he played the solos which were at times a mix of slide and finger playing. He did “introduce” us to his guitars as he had no band to do that with and it seems his guitars are from 1929 and 1935 and they look it. They sounded great, but it helps when they are obviously in the hands of a talented and heartfelt player. 3 songs were taken from his latest album The Fire Cosmic with opener “Scorpio” being the standout for me on the night. He also played “John The Revelator” from his 2020 album Island and I noticed plenty of folks around me singing along to the chorus the first time around.
He finished with a cover of Hendrix‘s”Voodoo Child” where he used the main riff as a starting point which he would keep swinging by as he improvised solos going from almost space rock, to howling feedback along with simply kick-ass slide making it original sounding and captivating. It takes a brave man to attempt Hendrix but an even braver one to take a song and make it their own the way he did. Troy went down very well with the audience as they joined in clapping and singing when encouraged to do so. A very strong solo performance all round.
A fine night with both acts giving all in their performances. For the headliner, they really have shown that simply doing the “music you yourself would like to hear” works. Being honest with yourself and your audience pays off, as does spending as much time online connecting with said audience. There was a family vibe to it all. It seemed that they knew half of the audience before they even arrived in Glasgow. Maybe that is the way to go to build an audience, it seems to have helped When Rivers Meet. Authentic and personable with appealing personalities with quality songs and music, no wonder they win awards and are gaining good crowds. See them whilst they are still in small places!
The tour continues throughout May including London, Birmingham, Norwich, Manchester, Bristol, Leek, Shoreham By Sea, Nottingham and Edinburgh.
Tour Dates and Ticket Link for remaining shows HERE
Check out my other articles and reviews here. Tom.