British Lion –
The Brass Monkey, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada, November 3rd, 2018
Set List: This Is My God/Lost Worlds/Father Lucifer/The Burning/Spitfire/The Chosen Ones/These Are the Hands/Bible Black/Nickels and Dimes (Andy Curran Cover)/Last Chance/Us Against The World/Lighting/Judas.
Encore: A World Without Heaven/Eyes of The Young.
Steve Harris- the name conjures up visions of ecstasy in the minds of countless Iron Maiden fans. Even those who are not among the faithful followers know him as a quintessential bassist. What many do not know is for the past few years Harris has fronted a side project know as British Lion. A hard rock quintet that shares no similarity with Harris’s mainstay day job. Frankly, I would be disappointed if it did.
While the whole is made up of the sum of its parts, each individual has their own influences and interests and that has always intrigued me. Not to mention joining forces with an array of musicians other than your regular crew is going to produce an entirely different outcome.
Waiting for the band to cross the threshold on to American soil turned fruitless but they, instead, booked a series of Canadian dates. If the Lion will not come to you, then you go to the Lion and off to Ottawa I went. The journey was a success as I had the chance to see the band in an intimate setting. This, alone, was worth the international flight, and braving chilly Canadian temperatures.
There were quite a few Iron Maiden fans, decked out in band regalia, taking advantage of the chance to see Steve Harris in a small club. However there were also numerous people there to see British Lion and because, well, they got to see Steve Harris in a small club. I was in the second category and was delighted on both accounts.
The set began with 'This is My God', a melodic, old school rock sounding number that was responsible for my hunting down their current CD in the first place. Richard Taylor’s vocals are soothingly charismatic and it wasn’t long before he won the crowd over; even those who, initially, could not get past the fact that this wasn’t Bruce Dickinson.
Guitarists, Grahame Leslie and David Hawkins played in perfect tandem and drummer, Simon Dawson’s back beat accompanied Harris’s thumping bass runs which is no easy feat. The rhythm section is the pulse of the music and if the drummer isn’t on it, it all goes to hell pretty fast. Dawson is an ace so there are no worries there.
While Harris ventured outside of his metal box, with this project, the ever energetic showman treated the much smaller stage like an Iron Maiden fortress. Bouncing from one spot to the next, he connected directly with as many fans as possible. It was obvious how passionate he is about his creations no matter what band he choices to live with at the moment.
The set list covered the majority from the self-titled debut album which features a diversity of selections that encompasses both a classic and modern edged flair. The catchy choruses and energetic reverberations of 'Lost Worlds', 'The Chosen Ones' and 'These Are the Hands' echoed through the venue charming The Brass Monkey crowd. The one surprise was the cover of Andy Curran’s 'Nickels and Dimes', which was very interesting to witness.
The more Iron Maidenesque 'Judas' took its appropriate place as the final number before the two song encore. By this point the packed house was euphoric and the idea that this was close to the swansong of the evening resulted in chants of “Steve, Steve” and “British Lion” simultaneously.
Whether you are a curious Iron Maiden fan or a true devotee of British Lion, indulging in this group live guarantees an exceptional music experience. These guys are seasoned performers who can walk onto a club stage one day and a festival the next and still perform with the same zealous energy.
By Dawn Belotti
Photographs by Dawn Belotti and Bob Biel