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William The Conqueror – live review *****

Finally able to tour to promote their third album, Maverick Thinker, William The Conqueror headlined a triple-bill at The Joiners in Southampton. Great support sets came from Louis And The Shakes and Norwegian trio CASILIAN.

“A real gig – we love it! We are so happy just to be playing again” enthused Ruarri Joseph, evidently enjoying himself and dancing whilst playing guitar.

The grunge groove wall of sound that is William The Conqueror live kicked in from the opening number Deep End from the new album. The thundering bass of Naomi Holmes and pulsating drums of Harry Harding permit Joseph the timing freedom to deliver his many words to maximum effect. His songs often have a heavy hint of irony, self-deprecation, and caustic observation.

The show was front-loaded with songs from the new album including Move On, Wake Up and Alive At Last. The band’s new material as strong as anything that has preceded it. Jesus Dies A Young Man went down a storm.There were three unrecorded songs thrown in for good measure which fit the mould and were well received. Four songs from each of the first two albums made up the 17-song set, with the band playing more than the planned setlist and up to the venue’s curfew.  

The crowd-pleaser Thank Me Later was hi-jacked by the crowd. When Joseph paused for dramatic effect, half the audience sang the line, causing hilarity to ensue and catching the singer off guard. This track bonded band and audience, taking the gig to another level with the audience bopping and swaying to familiar favourites as Tend To The Thorns, Bleeding On The Soundtrack, Cold Ontario and Looking for The Cure. A blistering Sensitive Side triumphantly closed the evening in typically powerful style.

Along with death and taxes, the musical certainty of life is that William The Conqueror will always deliver a five star gig.

The trio have a one-off show at London’s Omeara on Wednesday 23rd March next year which is bound to sell out well in advance.

Words and Live photo: Chaz Brooks

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