GIG REVIEW: Soil & Sons Of Texas Live at O2 Academy, London
A cool Tuesday evening in North London appears quite normal when going about the day to day check list. However, in Islington’s O2 Academy, buried among cinemas, restaurants and other family outlets, a particular brand of trucker metal pulled in to take the bite out of the air, if only just for a short while. As Soil prepared to take the stage for their first headline show in this city for some time, the audience was prepped by some local (and not so local) support to kick it all off.
U.K’s own Liberty Lies took the stage baring some blatant growing pains. The general feeling was these boys are still trying to find their sound and themselves as a band. What worked in their favour though was their energy, an honest gratitude and a powerful display of their passion for playing live. A lot to learn and a long way to go, they still left the stage with the audience won over.
If Liberty Lies displayed some natural growing pains, next up were Sons of Texas who all but wore their teething pains on their sleeve. Musically tight though baring a striking resemblance to a cheap Pantera cover band, S.O.T put on a show that left the audience well and truly oiled for the evening’s headliners. With that said, the audience did not sympathize with the bands disheartening with regards to the lack of beer tokens they had at their disposal. Get over it, get on with it and the frat boy front really isn’t melting any faces or doing any favors.
Since the release of ‘Whole’ in 2013 that saw Ryan McCombs return to the band realigning the original line up, Soil have been on the road for three years and show little sign of pulling the breaks just yet. It would be fair to assume that due to the sheer exhaustion of such extensive touring that their show may have lost its edge. A fair assumption but not the case. The evening’s relatively full room now filled to the brim saw the walls nearly burst when house lights dimmed and the intro music began.
Taking the stage one by one, Soil bounced back and forth between old classics and some newer favorites. “Wide Open”, “Hate Song” “Need To Feel” and “Pride” saw the entire McCombs catalogue with the band touched on in just the first few moments. For the most part McCombs did not need to even use his iconic mic stand as crowd participation barely stopped for a moment. The band played, smiled and enjoyed the audience taking front and center with songs such as “Breaking Me Down”, “Amalgamation” and night standout “Unreal”. The only silence was found when two tracks from the non McCombs era were performed which the singer pleaded with audience “If you know the words, help me sing it, because I don’t want to”. Although said in jest, there was some truth to it! Both Tim (bass) and Adam (guitar) paid little heed to the comments while drummer Mitch still marveled in the love fans expressed toward him earlier in the set, which left a comically confused McCombs scratching his head and rethinking his position in the band! The evening concluded with the ‘Scars’ classic “Halo” which saw the frontman walk through the crowd and sing the classic with them. The band returned once more to encore with a rendition of Ram Jam‘s “Black Betty” and left the stage well and truly humbled.
On top of what was more than a damn fine show from one of Chicago’s finest, the evening also proved to be an interesting watch from a generational standpoint. From watching nervous newbies to a slightly older and more polished brand of new things to come, it is exciting to watch this new blood coming around the bend. Though our veterans that are Soil remind us to enjoy the few icons we have remaining. With so many of the greats hanging up their gloves or passing away, we are left with very few who are worthy of being dubbed the real deal. Luckily, nights such as this prove we still have a few.
It is easy to forget that Soil are with us twenty years, the last three of which have been spent performing shows to Tuesday’s high standard. With the year coming to an end and some new material on the horizon, Soil prove time and time again that they can still deliver the goods, even if a few heavy hearts saw no sign of the mighty “Shine On” in the set.