O2 Academy Boscombe

Sunset Sons

It’s easy to forget that hidden away in the bowels of Boscombe resides the O2 Academy. The venue may not be anything to look at from the outside but on entering the main auditorium you can’t help but be impressed by the grandeur and ornate decoration, the place is an architectural gem, although it’s a shame about the manky toilets and lack of decent beer served at the bar. It’s because of the latter that I missed the two support acts on offer tonight, as I was down the road in Weatherspoon’s supping a few decent, reasonably priced pints before setting off to see the main act, Sunset Sons.

Formed in the French coastal resort of Hossegar, Sunset Sons came together almost by accident when Bournemouth born singer / keyboard player Rory Williams was spotted by drummer Jed Laidlaw drunkenly hammering out a bunch of songs on a piano after a shift behind the bar at Le Surfing, a local hangout for surfing dudes. The pair teamed up and recruited Australian bassist Pete Harper and guitarist Robin Windram in the summer of 2013 and have been going from strength to strength ever since. Four EP’s and one full album later the quartet pulled into Bournemouth for the fifth time on Sunday night as part of a tour to promote said album, “Very Rarely Say Die” and proceeded to win over a reasonably large and enthusiastic crowd ranging from kids to granddads, plus a contingent of Williams own friends and family.

Sunset Sons
Sunset Sons 

Right from the off it was obvious the band and crowd were up for a good time as they kicked into their opener “Medicine”, but I have to come clean here for a minute and admit I am not entirely au fait with their music, as I attended the gig as part of a birthday present from my daughter, who thought I would like them due to the fact that they are reminiscent of early Kings of Leon, and boy was she right. The similarity between Rory Williams’s voice and that of Caleb Followill is quite uncanny at times, particularly on three of the rockier songs they plucked from their album, namely “She Wants”, “Know My Name” and “On the Road”. Kings of Leon comparisons aside, second number “Tick Tock” brought to mind the Red Hot Chilli Peppers with its funky guitar chops and rousing chorus, but I don’t want to make it sound that their songs are derivative, as the band have their own voice and know how to conjure up a killer hook. As the gig progressed Rory worked his socks off to involve the crowd, there was another guy with them tonight who sat unobtrusively at the back covering guitar and keyboard parts freeing up the singer to do his thing, while bassist Pete marauded from side to side of the stage with the occasional detour via the drum riser. For most of the night they kept the repertoire upbeat with the pace only slacking for “Loa”, “VROL” and “September Song”, but as soon as there was a chance for a singalong or communal hand clapping it was eagerly taken by both band and audience. After what seemed a very short sixty minutes they left the stage to calls of more, returning for an encore of “I Can’t Wait”, “Lost Company” and a joyous “On the Road” with more energetic audience participation.

I came away from the O2 a convert, the unexpected birthday present had done the trick. Don’t let the surfer tag put you off sampling their music, if you’re thinking Jack Johnson, guitars around a campfire and ukuleles you would be way off the mark, these guys rock, plus it’s always satisfying to see a local lad come good.

Tick Tock
She Wants
Know My Name
Disco Bands
Come Easy
September Song
Bring the Bright Lights
Somewhere Maybe
I Can’t Wait
Lost Company
On the Road


Words by John Cherry

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