So I stroll into the Middle East downstairs last night before things really started getting going and there’s Keith Pierce, ringleader extraordinaire listening to the freshly delivered test pressing of Mellow Bravo’s new self-titled album on Mad Oak/Small Stone Records which is being played by the DJ through the house PA and I gotta say, it sounds great, and Keith is psyched, cuz this is how it’s done. You play rock music, you write anthem after anthem, you record an album and then you press that shit onto wax to be enjoyed by the unwashed masses. But I digress.
Roadsaw. Yeah man, fucking Roadsaw. Look, these guys have been delivering the rock since the dawn of time it seems, and they delivered more of it last night in a manner which would lead you to believe that they still give a huge fuck about matters such as this. And they do. Ian Ross had the sound dialed in perfectly on the Les Paul/Marshall rig, slinging crunchy riffs and ripping solos left and right. The mix was clear and loud, and the boys played mostly new stuff, dipping back into their catalog for a few choice tracks (Gotta Go, Keep On Sailin’) and demonstrating why Boston is lucky to have a band such as this. Everything was in place. Craig Riggs’ vocals were powerful and spot on, Tim Catz’s bass rumbled and shook the Earth, and Jeremy Hemond bashed the shit out of his Vistalites like the bastard offspring of Vinny Appice and Cozy Powell, which is kind of gross if you really think about it, so don’t. But yeah, if you like your rock heavy, catchy and, well, rockin’, then I have no idea why you wouldn’t be into these guys.
Movers and Shakers played next. I don’t know anything about these dudes, but I watched a few songs and it turns out that they’re not really my bag. Nothing really wrong with what they’re doing, per se, but it was kind of too commercial/safe for my tastes. More in line with the Gin Blossoms than anything else, so if you’re into commercial sounding bar rock with a hint of Americana, check these guys out. If you’re into detuned riffage which sounds like the souls of the damned are being belched forth from the bowels of Hell, then steer clear.
And then Mellow Bravo took over the stage. Yeah, “took over” is the correct term. This was their record release show for their brand new full length just released by Mad Oak Records in conjunction with Small Stone, but Mellow Bravo aren’t what you would usually expect from the venerable heavy rock label. Don’t get me wrong, they do rock, yes indeed they do, but they also do all manner of other things, such as having a couple of cellists come onstage and having a choir of some of their best buds sing backing vocals. Jeffrey Fultz plays these guitar solos which are the epitome of 80’s arena rock, the kind where you feel like you’re standing on top of a mountain while jet fighters fly by and eagles soar overhead. And Jess Collins, well, Jess Collins just fucking rocks. Her voice is just perfect, bringing to mind Heart in their prime. Mellow Bravo is pure entertainment, six people onstage playing their Goddamn hearts out and having a great time doing it. If you watch these guys and gal and don’t break into a smile even once during their set then you might actually be a corpse. Are they the heaviest band ever? No. Do they write twenty minute prog epics about dragons battling aliens on the moons of Jupiter? No. (Note to self: write a twenty minute prog epic about dragons battling aliens on the moons of Jupiter.) But Mellow Bravo play good, well-crafted hard rock with touches of pop and country and they have a fucking blast doing it.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.