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Blackwater Conspiracy / These Wicked Rivers –

Corporation, Sheffield, Sunday 19th September, 2021

Well it's so good to get back into Corporation again as it's been the best part of two years at least due to all the bullsh*t worldwide. I have really missed being here, so what better than starting it all off with a truly tremendous double bill the day before the working week kicks off again? A Heretic Festival Show here in Sunny Sheffield of course!

Set List: Shine On/Hit The Ground/When The War Is Won/Evergreen/Floyd/Testify/Don't Pray For Me.

These Wicked Rivers kick off the night, who are playing the Heretic Fest itself on the Saturday night in May 2022. A band who have Derby roots and comprise of John Hartwell (Vocals/Guitar), Arran Day (Lead Guitar), Sam Williams (Bass), Dan Southall (Drums) & Rich Wilson (Keyboard/Vocals).

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It's all funky carpets 'n' lampshades 'n' drapes and overall a really laid back look going down on the stage which sets the ambience for what is to come musically. It's deep, it's dirty, it's bluesy, it's stonerish and more... A solid sound of gutsy brilliance in a seven song set that thoroughly gravitated into our heads 'n' hearts and completely shook the room.

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We get songs from their 1st album ('Eden' - 2020) and the E.P. ('II' - 2017) as well – the fact that I went out my way to buy both CD's says it all since this tight unit really impressed me, not to mention a fantastic look that was reminiscent of the Southern States of the USA, putting me visually in mind of bands like The Black Crowes, ZZ Top and Blackberry Smoke etc.

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They had that joyous feel of 'bring it on brothers and sisters and lets groove this thing for all it's worth'. It was not lost on the folk in here either turning them onto them immediately with the stomping gritziness of 'Shine' and 'Floyd' who don't come around here no more and the pacey 'Evergreen' about a man in the woods.

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Then there was the moody 'n' dark atmosphere of 'Don't Prey For Me' & 'When The War Is Won' – I think we just might have to witness these guys again – it would be rude not to! Such a personable band who have really been putting the work in since thing have got something like again.

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They will grow and grow – it's sure-fine safe bet! I'll be catching them again for sure!

Set List: Goodbye To Yesterday/Monday Club/Waiting On Hollywood/Blackwater Swagger/Penny For Your Dirty Mind/All Wired Wrong/Soul Revolutionary/Shooting The Breeze/Roll The Dice/Take It On The Chin/In Another Lifetime/Decadent Highway.


Encore: Bird In A Coalmine/Hanging Tree/85 Rockstar.

The headliners of tonight have come over from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland to see us who could not make the new date of Heretic Fest due to a clash. The band are made up of Phil Conatane (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar), Brian Malton (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals), Kie McMurray (Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals), Aaron Connelly (Keyboards/Backing Vocals) & Fionn O'Hagain (Drums).

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They have the musicality of full-on Americana which is right up my street and put me in mind of The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Dan Baird, Tom Petty, Blackfoot and even a bit of Delaney & Bonnie or The Eagles and elements of The Rolling Stones & Quireboys thrown in too – a perfect melting pot as far as I am concerned.

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Each song has an epic riff, not mention lovely harmonies that all the band members seem to get in on making one big sound and totally drags you into the zone, taking you down to a Dixie heaven – you can almost forget you are in Steel City and imagine walking out to swampy, gator infested lake area with Spanish moss in high abundance.

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Some amazing slide guitar work like in 'Take It On The Chin' and harmonica playing as well which does not go unnoticed by the congregation on this religious day of the week or should I say evening as well as some high moments in the set trackwise from both of their albums ('Shooting The Breeze' - 2017 & 'The Tales & The Dirty Truth Of Love & Revolution' – 2020) such as the opening cut 'Goodbye To Yesterday' which seals the deal immediately of creating a fair few more fans including yours truly.

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Other major standouts include the beautiful and powerful drummed 'All Wired Wrong' that reminds me a bit of The Who's Baba O'Riley in part and the gorgeous ballad 'In Another Lifetime' that all come from the current release.

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Or what about the Countriness of 'Monday Club'; the Southern Rock, Hammond Organ led 'Waiting On Hollywood'; The Hanging Tree' that instinctively makes me think of Bob Seeger's 'Turn The Page'; the fast-tempo of Decadent Highway' or the killer, wailing guitar of 'Roll The Dice' that they had us singling along to and also on our own - now you cannot beat getting everyone in the room – those who are ready and willing get in on the action – all and sundry actually – good deal!

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Okay, at times it was hard to make out the frontman was saying at times due to his fast, high-pitched broad Irish accent but we'll totally let him off for that since they are so, so good as a band.  That keyboard added loads of extra colour to the already supreme songs on offer in the set a well. They are pure proof that Northern Ireland can teach many a group this side of the Irish Sea a thing or two about musical prestige and sheer quality professionalism.


By Glenn Milligan

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