Thekla rocked with Wille & The Bandits

Rocking started with Rainbreakers on a Saturday night.

As we waited on a cold Bristol Saturday night for early doors we knew that the Thekla was safely moored. The rocking of the boat would be from two bands that promise a night of quality live music delivered with a freedom of spirit and pure joy. The night promises much will it deliver?

Onto the stage stepped The Rainbreakers. With changes in the ranks after the departure of long-time bassist Peter ‘Pedro’ Adams. Joining the Rainbreakers threesome for most of the tour is session bassist Ash Milburn. Band line-ups change but the music goes on as was proved tonight. A strong set was played with numbers from their latest album Face To Face that has an extra dimension when played live. Tonight that live dimension shone through with the boys playing with a freedom and pure joy to be on stage opening for Wille & The Bandits.

Opening with Heavy Soul they were hitting the ground running they were not letting there shortish set stop us from hearing the mix that makes the Rainbreakers stand-out from the crowd. Never constrained by genre they mix it their wonderful sound the vibes of what makes music feed your soul. This is a band getting better every time you hear them live. Lay It On Me always a favourite live sparkled tonight as if reflecting the lights on the lapping water outside.  The tempo changes they know how to rock with the best but then they slow the mood down with the reflective delivery of Lost For You, a love song that is personal genuine with an edge that pulls you deep into the emotions of the lyrics. The album Face To Face with its strong lyrics and melodies allow the Rainbreakers to fly musically on stage. Charlie on lead guitar can show his licks and riffs that flow in and out of the beat driven by Sam allowing Ben’s vocals to explore the textures and tones of the lyrics of every song. We are Face To Face with a band playing music that is in the here and now. With two songs acting as a pretend encore-closing out the set, Rainbreakers take of Gary Clarke Jnr’s When My Train Pulls In, the perfect number for a delicious and memorable solo from Charlie and a step back in time to the first EP Blood Not Brass with Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On… I can assure something is going on this was superb set from a band that is authoritative and knows how to deliver the music they want to play and we want to hear.

Will from Wille and The Bandits In Conversation

Short break and the stage was ready to launch the eclectic joyous organic sound that defines Wille & The Bandits. The boat was full as people became part of the tribe of who adore the layers of tonal extravaganza as the trio Will, Matt & Andrew take us on a musical journey of delight. Tonight is a celebration of their latest album Paths.

Opening with Victim Of The Night we are of on a musical journey that the band is taking us on with a blues-rock number that builds a story of struggle and finding solace the music ebbs and flows around the emotions.  The mood is uplifted with a song that has a chorus that is an ear worm you do not want to lose as they create the tonal tapestry of Make Love a live spectacular.

Wille & The Bandits are a trio, controlling the beat is Andrews superlative drumming as he conjures up a fluidity of beats, innovative percussion sound whilst being tight he is the glue that holds the band together, allowing the two front men to soar and fly. Starting on the left is Matt is one of the most energetic, visual bass performers on the circuit his fingers dexterously explore the strings of his six-string electric bass and his feet dance across his pedal board. He is mesmerizing, talented musician.  The final and definitely not least is Wille with his guitar skills as he explores the variety of tones from lap steel, acoustic or electric with plectrum or slide he makes though strings sing in perfect tonal harmony with his gritty vocals that caress the lyrics and make them have meaning and connect with the audience.

They move seamlessly from one style to another not in a chaotic way but selecting the shape of the music to reflect the song. It is expected that A Wille & The Bandit set includes there mix of Black Magic Women, capturing the spirt of Peter Green and the Latino hit from Santana. It is always a highlight an irresistible combination that makes you want to dance.   We are now back with the music of Paths and Judgment Day  what a song with a deep darker feel that hits you with its nod to Tom Waits whilst being one-hundred percent W&TB. Now we have some funk added to the mix; the bass break from AMtt a highlight of the night as we Keep It Down-Low.

The shape of the set changes as the electric is unplugged and we step back in time with an acoustic interlude. First Mammon form 2012 album Break Free and Four Million Days. Matt explores the five-string upright with bow and hitting the strings, the drumming was cool and rhythmic and the guitar vibrated with the joy of the music. Together across these two very different songs an atmosphere was created a real haunting sound that entrances.

Plugged in again the crowd at the Thekla are immersed in musical therapy that is Wille & The Bands and loving it. The bands popularity grows and as people demand music that is natural free from the constraints of mediocrity and bending to the shapes of a particular genre the demand for the band will continue to grow. The deliver difference with meaning, integrity there is an inherent truth in the delivery of every song they sing.  The songs can be deeply personal like the joy of being a Dad for the first time and the power Will’s daughter has over him with Watch You grow o the political of Find My Way with Djembe rhythms and fuzzy guitar. You will find soulful depth in every number.

The audience have fun because the band enjoy playing every note. They know how to have fun the mock battle of guitars between Matt & Wille is a quality dual refereed by Andrew and we cheer laugh and clap they are both brilliant and forever popular with the fans whether the deeper notes of the bassor the plethora of guitar choices played by Wille.

The set was far too short we could have listened to the band long into the night but sadly that was not the case. The last three numbers from the back catalogue and old favourites with the fans. Jack The Lad, Bad News and for the encore 1970 a firm favourite that cannot be left of a live set list.

Tonight was a confirmation that live music binds people in a shared experience and gives the soul food for your memory banks. If you have not seen Wille & The Bandits before, remedy that now free your musical spirit and catch them on ‘Paths’ tour.  Rainbreakers & Wille & The Bandits were the perfect combination for Bristol on a Saturday night. Come back soon.

Wille & The Bandits Thekla Set List

Victim Of The Night

Make Love

Find My Way

Watch You Grow

Black Magic Woman

Judgment Day

Keep It Down-Low

Mammon

Four Million Days

One Way

Virgin Eyes

Jack The Lad

Bad News

1970

Will from Wille and The Bandits In Conversation

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