Two Gallants – Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London 19/07/2011

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Two Gallants (photo: Anika Mottershaw)

It’s been half a decade since I first saw Two Gallants, and it’s good to see that the years haven’t diminished their terrifying intensity one iota.

Adam Stephens still has a glare that’d turn a man to stone, and a grizzled yelp that seems to encapsulate a life-time’s worth of heartbreak and hard living. Tyson Vogel looks like Jesus but drums like the Devil; less a man than some primal force incarnated in human form.

Together, they unleash an onslaught of blues-tinged country-rock as visceral as a knuckle-duster to the face; a show that doesn’t totally dispatch with subtlety but for the most part relegates it to a stool in the corner.

Their new material tends towards a more classic rock direction, taking full advantage of Stephens’s not inconsiderable fretwork skills, but it’s the classics that really hit the mark. ‘Las Cruces Jail’ remains an all-guns-ablazing assault of an anthem, Vogel assailing the drums like they’d personally insulted his mother. The more plaintive (if still raucous) ‘Steady Rollin’ triggers a spate of hoarse-throated singing and pint glasses held aloft in veneration.

But whilst there’s always that nagging feeling one should be witnessing all this in some redneck bar in the backwaters of the Deepest South rather than some anonymous black box on Hoxton Square, there’s no diminishing the power of Two Gallants’ potent Americana.

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