I made it to the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham early enough to get a great spot on a step from where I had an excellent view of the minimally decorated stage. Personally, I was very excited about this gig; a friend introduced me to the band a few years ago and I liked them instantly only to find out they were taking a break from working together to concentrate on solo projects. So when I heard they were releasing a new album and touring again I couldn’t wait to see them play live.
The duo hail from San Francisco and are touring the UK to promote their fourth album, The Bloom And The Blight, which has a heavier sound to their previous offerings. A little after 8.30 the rather slight figures of Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel take to the stage. Some softly spoken greetings are exchanged and they head straight into the first song, My Love Won’t Wait.
Unusually for a Friday night, the crowd seem somewhat subdued but after a few songs they jerk into life and begin to react energetically to every beat of Steady Rollin’. What this band lack in number and stature they certainly make up for in ability and emotion. Stephens, a very accomplished guitarist, picks his way intricately through the songs and seems to feel every lyric he emits. Vogel’s complex and powerful drumming complements this perfectly, while his vocals provide sweet harmonies as well as visceral almost-growls.
The band play a decent mix of old and new songs, sometimes changing them up, and even treating us to some new songs that have never been played in public before. The pair have been making music together since childhood and thus barely have to communicate with each other on stage, they just seem to work together as one. Even during the songs which are sung and played only by Adam, Tyson sits beside him admiringly.
The new songs are less folky and more grungy, with lyrics that explore personal issues that have affected the Californians during their hiatus; maybe they have grown up and that’s where the new, mightier sound has come from. The older songs are equally well received though, with the bluesy elements that make their sound so distinctive.
One can’t help but compare them to similar two-piece bands such as The Black Keys and wonder why they haven’t enjoyed such commercial success. They may be slightly less accessible to the masses because of their raw sound and intimate, gritty lyrics but I think they should be appreciated more because of this. The band re-enter the stage after a small break and play a three song encore to a rapturous reception, ending with Dyin’ Crapshooter Blues. It’s a shame the curfew for the show is 10 o’clock, I could’ve easily enjoyed a few more songs from Two Gallants.
Review by Eleanor Lawton
Band website: www.twogallants.com