No other better way to enjoy a Sunday evening, other than seeing the mighty James Toseland, with his band Toseland!
I’ve been fortunate enough to see Toseland before; last year and was left wanting more and to see them again. Luck was on my-side and when I knew Toseland was nearby, I jumped at the opportunity to go and see them at The Fleece in Bristol, but the question that I had in the back of my mind while making the journey to The Fleece was could Toseland top the last time I saw them?
After a short queue outside, the first support band of the night The Vigil, greeted the eager Toseland fans who had arrived early to get a good view for the night.
The Vigil are a local band from Bristol, consisting of members Olly Smith - Guitar & Vocals, Dom Mehigan - Bass, Robbie Schuck - Lead Guitar and Jamie Davenport on Drums.
This was the second time that I had seen The Vigil; previously last year on the same night they supported Toseland.
Sadly in the 18 month since, my opinion hasn’t changed from the last time I saw them, yes they sound tight and provide decent enough music to open the night of live music, but once you watch their stage presence and crowd interaction, that audio interaction doesn’t come across on stage, which is a shame as it became dull and a lacklustre performance from a decent sounding band.
After a quick gear swap and sound check, on the bill next for the night was another local band from Bristol, Illustr8ors.
I will say this from the get go, there is very few bands that I have seen in the supporting slot that have blown me away, the guys in Illustr8ors certainly blew me away. The Illustr8ors is formed of Scott Sharp - Vocals, Jason Cronin - Rhythm Guitar, John Greenhill - Lead Guitar, Ben Webb - Bass Guitar and Thomas Lennox-Brown on the Drums.
Illustr8ors offered myself and the crowd their take on a well thoughtful and performed Rock with Funk inspired set, pretty much instantly into their opening song, I was hooked and by the 2nd song I was blown away. They opened up with two very hard hitting rock songs from their upcoming self titled EP. Then the band delved more into it funky side and vocalist Scott Sharp was able to showcase his vocal ability to myself and the taken back crowd by his and the bands tight performance.
During Illustr8ors set for the night the band played a recent released single from their upcoming EP, which has been released in conjunction with Classic Rock Magazine, Animal.
Animal is a very easy listening song, with the backing of the classic Rock Magazine, I believe the live performance and the solid quality of this song could rocket the band to new heights, which myself I would really hope, for this local band!
I really enjoyed what the Illustr8ors had to offer for their set, but like all great things, their set came to a close and I was just left wanting more from them. Easily one of the best support bands I have seen this year and will definitely be going to another one of their shows again soon.
So after a blistering performance by the Illustr8ors, next up was the mighty Toseland. As the stage was setup in Toseland gear and The Fleece to near capacity, the lights dimmed and a very neat lighting trick; the amps for the bass and guitars was highlighted in red LEDs and this was the bands way to say James Toseland is here.
First up on stage was Joe Yoshida on the Drums, who made sure the crowd was getting warmed up by beating the bass drum with the backing of the crowds clapping, he was then shortly followed by Roger Davis on Bass, Ed Bramford on Guitar, Zurab Melua on Lead Guitar and then the main man himself James Toseland, with a loud roar from the crowd in The Fleece the band kicked off the set with the title track from their recent album Cradle The Rage and what a song to set the standard for the night.
Toseland provided all the well known hits for the Toseland fans in attendance and the soon to be hits from their recent album.
All the band bought the goods for the fans at The Fleece, from the point they hit the stage to the moment they closed their set with We’ll Stop at Nothing, Toseland did not falter.
Highlights from Toselands set was their non stop energy, James Toseland showing his musically talents with his piano playing and commanding the stage throughout while ensuring each of his band members took to the centre of the stage to take the praise from the crowd and himself. The lead guitar talents of Zurab Melua, man can he nail a spot on solo. A impromptu sing along with the crowd to wish Toby Jepson a happy birthday who was in attendance. Song highlights for me was the well known Life is Beautiful, Good Eye Blind, Cradle The Rage, Renegade and Kingdom; for the piano work of James Toseland.
As I mentioned before, I was fortunate enough to see Toseland before and I was left wanting more from the band, as they had blown me away.
After they closed the set I was left with the exact same feeling, but this time they easily topped their last performance I had seen of them, when James and the band are back in town I will be there!
The Vigil 2.5/5
Review By Robert Knight