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Time to get Wrecked!

The first time RJ played London there were about 30 people in the audience. The PowerHaus crowd was considerably bigger and rightly so: these guys are the real deal. Since their first album release in 2011, they've put out a steady stream of releases and toured pretty constantly. While many acts wear southern rock as a pretense, these guys from Orange County blend rock and blues effortlessly.

The band blast onto the stage with 'Pain No More', 'Come At Me', 'Do You Remember' and 'She's A Fighter'. For the uninitiated, these tracks are instantly memorable, for long-time fans they are established fist-pumping live anthems. With bags of sassy blues and a yearning slide guitar, it wouldn't be too hard to imagine Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt covering the incendiary track 'High Time'

The songs of course have nods to the Allmans, CSNY and The Eagles, but while they were the originators, Robert Jon & The Wreck are the torchbearers of the genre. Even down to the handwritten set list on the stage this is an organic band. There’s a magical fluidity to them and their musicianship is exceptional. The stage interplay fires their interaction with the audience as their licks and riffs bounce off each other making every track visually and aurally exciting. It’s not music by numbers, this is music rooted in expression and emotion.

Frontman Robert Jon Burrison is naturally placed center stage and his vocal is able to rouse the crowd on tracks like 'Shine A Light On Me Brother' and emote tender country rock numbers like 'Who Can You Love.' Guitarist Henry James Schneekluth is one of the most exceptional guitarists out there right now. Drummer Andrew Espantman has a Cheshire Cat grin for most of the set and bass player Warren Murrel with his Joe Bonamassa shades is having a ball too. Let's not forget the impressive keys man Jake Abernathie, who is as much a driving force of the band as the percussion section. This band is not road weary and going through the motions, they are in their prime.

RJ jokes that during his time in England it hasn't rained, but it's raining in the building - Powerhause still hasn’t fixed the leak. He then raises a glass and gives an intimate toast to the audience. It’s only a matter of time before the band find themselves in bigger venues, without the leaky roof. This is a reminder of the much-needed grassroots venues before music gets overly sanitised and too “business” oriented. Robert Jon & the Wreck have a humility to them and it shows. They are too busy playing music and doing what they love to an appreciative audience to care if it's raining inside or out.

Review by Cathy Clark and Gerry Driver

Photos by Gerry Driver


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