The opening date of what Wayward Sons billed as a ‘winter tour’ actually took place before the Autumn Equinox, so (technically) it was still summer! Pedantry aside, it was good to see veteran rocker Toby Jepson back in our city for the first time in years, with his current band Wayward Sons. The one-time Little Angels frontman has since carved out a career as a producer, but returned to the stage with this outfit a year ago. Their debut album (‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’) gained a lot of airplay on Planet Rock, with their live performances (supporting the likes of Inglorious and Steel Panther) being warmly received.
Their ‘real’ tour comes in October/November, when they play a series of dates supporting Saxon and then headline their own run, so this one was a little bit of a bonus for fans at this end of the M62 (like your correspondent!) who often bemoan the lack of this kind of event here. It looked like it was going to be a ‘selective’ kind of turnout, but as so often happens the place filled up substantially five minutes before the headliners were due on stage. Those who preferred to stay in the pub missed out on Doomsday Outlaw, a five-piece from Derby who play old-school classic hard rock. I caught the end of their set in Buckley recently (when they supported Graham Bonnet Band) and thought they were impressive. Here though, the sound was absolutely ear-splitting, a bit much for the smaller room at the o2 Academy. Above the din, it was clear they have a fine vocalist in Phil Poole, even if during their last number he failed to emulate Daltrey’s mic-swinging technique – the ‘clonk’ of his mic hitting the headstock of guitarist Steve Broughton. He almost ‘corpsed’ after that in embarrassed laughter but recovered enough to get through the song. Anyone going to the subsequent dates should check these guys out.
Wayward Sons came on fairly early at around 8:30 and the first thing that hit you was that volume – they were just as loud (if not more so) than the support! Opening with ‘Alive’ from the album, their sound is as heavy as any headbanger could want, plenty of meaty guitar from axeman Sam Wood as well as Jepson himself on rhythm. There is still enough melody in the mayhem to provide singalongs in the choruses, and the frontman took every opportunity to get the crowd involved. All of the songs from the album were played, as well as two non-album tracks from their ‘Don’t Wanna Go’ single (‘Radio Denial’ and ‘Backslide’), plus two Little Angels covers later in the set. One of those was inevitably ‘Kicking Up Dust’, which spawned the name of this band and the other was set closer ‘Young Gods’. These were delivered with far more grunt than they were in the Little Angels days, and as an added bonus they even ended proceedings with the closing segment of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’!
Although he does take pains to make sure everybody else in the band is recognised, Jepson is one of those frontmen who just naturally grabs the attention. He seemed to have a permagrin all night, proclaiming he’d play a gig ‘every night’ if he were allowed to. He also seemed happy to be back in Liverpool after all this time, reminiscing with the audience about playing at the Royal Court. He does have impressive players alongside though, particularly Phil Martini on the drums. It was a little tough to hear Dave Kemp on the keyboards, since the PA was set to kill (!) however.
A fine night of old-fashioned classic hard rock then, performed with verve and enjoyment by all present. Hopefully it won’t be as long until next time Toby Jepson rocks up in Liverpool, but if I’m being honest the volume was a bit excessive all evening. For those who still insist that ‘if it’s too loud then you’re too old’ – well count me as ‘too old’ if you like but on this occasion I was glad of the improvised tissue paper ear defenders I had in all set!