Bear Cave, Bournemouth

After getting acquainted with Derby Rock band These Wicked Rivers over the last couple of years and thoroughly enjoying their latest album “Force of Nature”, the band announce their “Peace, Love & Lampshades” UK tour taking in 9 venues including local to me, the intimate setting of the Bear Cave in Bournemouth. The band performed just down the M27 in Southampton at the Loft just before Christmas on a piercingly cold evening and they still managed to provide one hell of a performance.

Before the headliners we have two exciting options to get the evening on its way. The first of these are local band Mikey Ball and the Company. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys many times previously and due to one reason or other there have been a host of line-up changes over the years.

This evening sees the band take to the stage with no less than three guitarists, with Mikey Ball (Guitar/Vocals), Chris Collins (Guitar/Vocals) with former bassist Dean Hurst (guitar/vocals) now taking the six-string option. Known multi-talented musician Romeo Kennedy now takes on bass duties with Bear Cave barman the big-bearded Sam Hurst on the drums. Kicking off with “Stolen the Show” the band face a few initial sound issues, however soundman Nick Scott (as usual) is on the case and with a few adjustments the band are sounding fine. The three guitars create an impressive wall of sound and the band appear to have side-stepped their initial Country Rock leanings with more of a Classic Rock sound.

We are treated to mainly tracks from the 2022 album “Through the Night” including the Blues-infused “Runnin'” and the uplifting show closer “One More Night”. The band show themselves to be on fine form and really entertain the appreciative crowd, with the subtle changes to the line-up showing the band are firing on all cylinders.

Mikey Ball And The Company
Mikey Ball And The Company 12345678

Next up are a band that I have neither heard of or even seen before and due to the recent change in support from She Burns Red, I have not even had the chance to check them out beforehand. The Hot One Two are a five-piece from Cambridge and unlike the other notable Rock band from Cambridge they don’t take themselves too seriously. They feature Simon West on lead vocals with Nick Manners on lead guitar with the gurning Kev Baker on rhythm guitar, along with the rhythm section of Nick Blackburn on bass and babyface Joe Chivers on drums.

Unlike me, the majority of this crowd seem to be au fait with the band and their songs. Opening with “Playing with Fire” they show themselves to have all the ingredients that you would look for within a great Rock band. Their instrumentation, harmonies and Simon’s vocals set the benchmark high with tracks like “God Forsaken Blues” and the rip-roaring “You’ve got it”. Their energy and enthusiasm are so infectious and it’s clear with the band’s chemistry, they are out to all have a good time. Despite the lack of space on the Bear Cave’s small stage, the band show off some fun choreographed Rock moves; much to the delight of the audience.

The Hot One Two
The Hot One Two 1234567891011

The band end with a great tune called “Tie Me Down” from their debut album “Superbia” and get the audience singing along with the chorus. Nick Manners stuns us with a great guitar solo and the band finish on a high getting lots of celebratory noise from the excited crowd.

As the stage is prepared, it seems that These Wicked Rivers are in safe hands with Takeaway Thieves guitarist Neil Hunter in their road crew. He has notably worked for Massive Wagons before. It seems this evening he is in sole charge of the band’s lampshades who are a bit worse for wear, nothing that some magic gaffer tape can’t sort out. After a few technical issues are sorted the band’s intro music starts and they take to the stage for their debut gig in Bournemouth.

I cannot lie, after seeing these guys the first couple of times I was smitten with everything they have to offer. Watching their stagecraft at this close range is something that I and tonight’s audience are relishing. The place is full of familiar faces of people that frequent the local Rock music scene, the crowd are a discerning lot who are well educated when it comes to their Rock bands.

They kick off with “Force of Nature” and the TWR engine is in full flow with their unique big sound brought together with the band’s impressive creative abilities. John’s charismatic vocal combined with Arran’s huge guitar sound are some of the main factors why people keep returning to see these guys live. The sound is further bolstered with Rich Wilson with some epic sounding keys, along with the super-powered drumming of Dan Southall and newest recruit Adam Brewell on bass.

The band have a psychedelic style of their own and create music from a host of influences, along with plenty of their own individual inputs. It’s a privilege to see the band at such close quarters and it feels that they are on the cusp of taking the next step to some larger stages.

These Wicked Rivers
These Wicked Rivers 1234567891011

From “Black Gold” to “Evergreen” along with the monumental “When the War is Won” the band thrill with some great numbers that allow you to forget everything else going on and take you on a divine musical journey through the Rock spectrums.

I was initially concerned about the sound quality in here tonight; however the Bear Cave’s investment in a decent sound system is paying dividends and along with the soundman’s expertise, things are sounding just right. Arran’s pedal board by most standards is huge and he uses the effects to tune in to his specific atmospheric guitar sounds, I’m sure he has spent many years in the fabricating of this sound and his Gretch guitar positively soars to some amazing audible heights.

During the final number we are treated to what I can only describe as an out of body experience when he brings out the ‘beast’, a dark green double-headed guitar, which provides yet more of a display of what this man is capable of.

A truly inspiring evening featuring three quite different prospects, all who stepped up and wholeheartedly entertained this Bournemouth crowd.

Set Lists
These Wicked Rivers
Force Of Nature
Shine On
Black Gold
Bottom of Here
That Girl
Riverboat Man
When The War is Won
Lord Knows
Lonely Road
Just To Be a Man
The Family
Don’t Pray for Me

The Hot One Two
Playing With Fire
The Fray
Rolling Stone
God Forsaken Blues
You’ve Got It
Is It Hot
Tie Me Down

Mikey Ball & The Company
Stolen The Show
Long Gone Love
One More Night



Article & Media by David Chinery (Chinners)
Photography & Transport by Lynn Burt
Additional Media & Photography from Becky Crowthall-Brown

These Wicked Rivers