If you have never heard of the young blues troupe Mentulls before (and RTM can count itself amongst that group) then you need to make sure that changes pretty quickly.
Ok, so we only walked into a sparsely populated Robin in time to see their last two songs, but what songs they were! The North East group’s lead guitar player Andrew Pipe, is quite brilliant – we urge anyone to check them out when they are in Birmingham in early November.
Following the almost ridiculously young openers are another North East outfit in the Mitch Laddie Band. Not quite as youthful as The Mentulls, they too are a new name on us at RTM.
They too, largely stick to the blues formula – their second song is a cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan, for example – but add their own little twist, notably with their version of Tower Of Power’s “What Is Hip.” However, most of their hour long set, laudably, is made up of their own compositions. “Paper In Your Pocket” in particular is impressive. Given they are given far longer onstage than they might have expected; the temptation might have been to overplay. They do not – although Laddie is clearly very talented – and theirs is a very enjoyable outing.
Skinny Molly are veritable Southern Rock royalty. Frontman Mike Estes used to be in Lynyrd Skynyrd, appearing on their “Endangered Species” record, while lead guitar slinger Jay Johnson has been in Blackfoot.
Earlier this year they stuck out a new CD, “Haywire Riot,” which not only is the best southern tinged rock album for quite a while, it also makes the last two lukewarm Skynyrd records look a little weak.
They begin with the first track on “….Riot” “If You Don’t Care” and the bulk of it is played. The lyrical themes do not stray much of the well-worn path. Molly’s is a world where women drive you to drink, you can always get away from them on the open road, and a southern man don’t need you around anyhow – and like the first track says, they “don’t give a damn if you don’t care.” It must also be said that it is world, with plenty of damn good songs. “Two Good Wheels” which deals with all the above, not the least of them.
Estes seems happy to be playing his guitar, greeting every tiny bit of applause with a “thanks y’all” as if he can’t quite believe he is in England playing these songs.
The gig – as these things simply must be if they are going to work – is just good fun. A cover of “Copperhead Road” is casually chucked in as is one of RTM’s absolute favourites “Wishing Well” (which Blackfoot also do).
There is also a refreshing lack of ego too. There is no encore (Estes explains that “if we go off and you don’t shout us back we will be sad.”) so instead they just stay onstage and play a 12 minute version of “Freebird,” which you sort of knew they would and, like you also could have surmised, they make a fine job of it too.
Skinny Molly are not the sort of band to ever change the world, or “challenge” their audience, but they are exactly the sort of band to make the world just a little more fun for the 75 minutes a night they are onstage.