It was a great pleasure and a privilege to host a return visit from our friends Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse – particularly since they had agreed to drive all the way down from Lancashire for this gig, and then all the way back up there again for another one the next day! After their previous memorable appearances at the Muse, The Brecon audience knew they were in for an absolute treat, and tickets sold out almost immediately they were announced.
And indeed it is a rare treat to see a band of this calibre in such a friendly and intimate venue as the Muse. You could only marvel at their irrepressible energy and stamina – as they launched into a single set of two and a half hours, with no break!
Starting off with the raunchy blues of ‘Heartbreaker’ they pretty soon ramped up the pace – “a little bit higher” – and the audience responded in true Brecon fashion, dancing, singing along and trading jokes with the band.
Lead guitarist Robin Davey was on brilliant form, with an urgency and blistering intensity to some of his playing… balanced at other times by a tastefully subtle delicacy. As the laser lights cut through the dry ice, and Robin ramped up the manic energy for ‘Fill Me Up’ and ‘Louisiana Good Ride’ we were transported to an addictively intoxicating world of hypnotic swamp psychedelia.
Lead singer Greta Valenti was, as ever, utterly captivating and charming – at times mischievously leaving the stage to sing and dance along playfully with the audience – sometimes swaying in time with Robin and pumping their music along with huge physical energy and commitment – and then holding the audience spellbound for a poignant rendition of the moving ballad ‘Baby Baby’… there were quite a few damp eyes during that one.
Keyboard superstar Emma Jonson was excellent as always, and integral to the band’s sound – seemingly effortlessly producing both intense “swirl” and more delicate melodic bluesy solos with great musical virtuosity, poise and elegance. We love her amazing ‘Keytar’ !
The sound was underpinned by the rock-solid drumming of Phil Wilson who pumped up the energy superbly in the more up-tempo numbers, and by highly accomplished bassist Roger Inniss. Roger brought along one of the mightiest bass guitars ever seen at the Muse – with six strings – and used its full range to impressive effect to contribute wonderful melodic and funky elements to the mix.
They treated us to a couple of their newly written numbers – just enough to convince us that their new album, scheduled for release in early May, will be well worth the wait. Their cover version of “House of the rising sun” was also original, innovative and adding a new dimension to the old song.
As the evening drew towards a close though, they delighted the audience with some of the classic Beaux Gris Gris favourites “Don’t let the bastards drag you down” and “What’s my name” – drawing the evening to a fitting and rousing close…. but yet still they kept on playing, since it felt like both band and audience were up for more!
By the end of this mighty set, the audience left suitably impressed and counting themselves very lucky indeed to have experienced such a powerful and committed performance from a band who really are on top form. We wish them all the best for the rest of their tour, for the new album in May, and we can guarantee them a very warm welcome any time they want to stop by Brecon in the future.
Many thanks as ever to everybody who helped to make this gig possible, to the wonderful team at The Muse for their hospitality, and to everyone who came along to kick off 2024 at the Mid Wales Rhythm & Blues Club in such style – we have plenty more to come!
Photos by Barry Hill
Review by Jim Kerslake