GIG REVIEW: Elles Bailey c/w Brave Rival

Elles Bailey 

Support: Brave Rival

Liverpool Academy 2

March 9, 2023

Live Photography (c) Geoff Oldfield 

It’s at The Liverpool Academy 2, on a bleakly chilly Thursday, that around three hundred aficionados turn out to see one of the very best Blues singers around in Elles Bailey. An added plus is an acoustic performance by one of the very best up-and-coming bands in Brave Rival. Anticipation fizzes the more time ticks on; it’s been a while since Elles has been in town, after all.

Brave Rival are Blues-Rock dynamite. Hailing from Portsmouth, tonight they treated their audience to a deeply intimate, ridiculously powerful set which underlined their burgeoning reputation of knowing how to entertain. Simply placing them in the Blues-Rock genre, though, is too simplistic. There is everything here, from the lightest of touches displayed in their cover of Simon and Garfunkle’s Sound of Silence, through to out-and-out. rockers Heart Attack and What’s Your Name Again? – both of which appear on the band’s debut album, Life’s Machine – there is something for everyone to enjoy.


What’s most refreshing, though, is the harmony with which singers Chloe Josephine and Lindsey Bonnick perform. There’s an underlying steel beneath the seeming effortlessness of their performance, which is further underscored by an all-encompassing passion for what they are doing. Brave Rival as a collective takes its audience on a journey, explaining the back story of certain numbers in an easygoing manner that eases the listener in before the music blows them away, magnificently. Thirty minutes isn’t long in which to make an impression, yet long enough to convince that – next time out – Brave Rival’s is a gig worth seeing in its own right. 

Elles Bailey is an award-winning, Blues-Rock, Americana maestro. The Bristolian has powered her way to the forefront of the music scene, with her smokey vocals, deliciously intemperate lyricism, and a penchant for mixing things up with a little controversy. She’s also a regular voice these days on Planet Rock Radio, where she can be heard each Saturday for an hour from noon.

All systems go then. With her gig starting with a magnificently upbeat The Game from last year’s fifth studio album,  in the Half Light, all is set fair for a rip-roaring experience that never, ever looks as though it’s going to disappoint. There are stories. There’s banter. There’s an appreciation of her guests. Mostly though there is the music … and boy what music there is, with stand-out performances of Cheats and Liars, a beautifully seductive Perfect Storm, and a  delivered Medicine Man all pinpointing what an eclectic firebrand of a performer Elles Bailey is.

Speaking before the show, with another supporter of live music, the very fact that two top artists refuse to charge the Earth for a gig is both refreshing and enticing. £20 for over two hours of top-class blues-rock, as opposed to £180+ to watch a croaky-voiced legend on the big screen from the back of an arena or football pitch, is growing ever more inviting the older one gets. It’s been a while in coming but, man, has this been a night worth waiting for and one made all the better for its intimacy. 

Elles Bailey is on tour nationwide. For details: