Into Music Live Review: His Lordship
Concert: His Lordship
Venue: Glasgow Stereo
Date: 4 April 2023
Tuesday often gets bad press, lost in the void between the gloom of the beginning of the working week and the joy of the weekend. You’d think Wednesday would get more grief for this, but it benefits from being ‘hump day’, which you can interpret in any way you so desire. A Tuesday night in Glasgow at a time of year where the weather can require a woolly hat and sunscreen in the same day, it can be difficult to find the motivation to seek out quality live entertainment. However, in a city renowned for its promotion of live music, incorporating the established and renowned alongside the up-and-coming and the somewhere in-between, you’ll always find something in Glasgow to entertain your ears.
Tuesday 4 April saw one of these options being His Lordship, a two-piece made up of Camden’s James Walborne on guitar and vocals, and Denmark’s Kristoffer Sonne, who met through Pretenders icon, Chrissie Hynde. Walborne has been guitarist in The Pretenders for many years and Sonne, a member of Suede’s Brett Anderson’s band, was brought in to appear on one of Hynde’s solo efforts. From that meeting, His Lordship was born, destined to play Stereo in Glasgow on an unremarkable Tuesday night in Glasgow.
Having been in a few bands over the years, I’ve played Stereo with three different outfits and always found it to be a great venue – not too big, not too small, and always a great sound. Interestingly, there’s another link with Brett Anderson here, as Suede played Stereo in February 2023 as part of Independent Venue Week. It’s a crazy-small venue for a band of Suede’s significance, but it’s heartening to see audiences being treated to such opportunities, and those I know who managed to get a ticket said it was a fantastic experience, if slightly surreal.
Not that it was unexpected, but as soon as His Lordship took to the stage, their presence was instant. Any chattering heads turned towards the stage as Walborne and Sonne prepared to play their first number, accompanied by a bass player, whose name, unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find. Dressed in Reservoir Dogs-style suits, from the now defunct Topman, they looked like they meant business before a single note was played. I noticed that while Sonne and the bass player wore black ties, Walborne was sans tie. I didn’t think anything of it until I noticed the same theme – if you can call it a theme – in the band’s videos and press photographs. Maybe it’s a throat thing, or a singing thing, or maybe it’s just a quirk they decided on from the off to see if anyone would notice.
It’s difficult to talk about His Lordship without churning out clichés and obvious points of reference, but the one thing that stood out to me was their unbounding energy. No need for a workout programme if you’re a member of His Lordship, that’s for certain. As well as great for the band members’ cardiovascular systems, the showmanship was as professional as it was engaging. Three animated individuals coming together to produce an ensemble piece they were clearly enjoying as much as the audience – and even when a dodgy lead threatened to interrupt proceedings, Walborne made a joke out of it as if it was part of the script. It was a terrific example of ‘The Show Must Go On’, as was the case when Sonne spun a drumstick into the air and mistimed the catch, yet didn’t lose his timing in the slightest.
I remember a review I read many years ago of an Oasis gig, in which the reviewer praised the performance musically, but in terms of engagement, criticized them for ‘just standing there’. His Lordship could never be accused of this, especially during the number where the bass player took over on the drums and Sonne took to lead vocals. The song was strong, but the performance was outstanding. As someone who hadn’t seen His Lordship before, it was utterly captivating, almost like the band had thought to themselves, ‘How can we ramp this up a notch at a point in the set where the audience think we’ve peaked energy-wise?’ It was clever and memorable, and I noticed a few punters looking at each other as if to say, What the hell’s going on? Got to love a band who pay this amount of attention to performance and engagement.
As far as the music goes, this is where it’s difficult not to end up down a rabbit hole of clichés. In short, His Lordship are a rock ‘n’ roll band who tap into a number of iterations under that umbrella. At times, you could imagine them playing in the corner of the diner in an episode of Happy Days, exuding that late 50s, early 60s jangly rockabilly sound, but at other times, they’re more akin to the likes of Motorhead or Queens of the Stone Age. Speaking of Motorhead, with high volume there often comes a lack of clarity, but this can’t be said for His Lordship. They were loud, but every word that came out of Walborne’s mouth could be heard clearly, as could any backing vocals provided by Sonne and the bass player. No distortion to the point of mush, which is no mean feat, yet they pulled it off expertly. Similarly, instrumentation was clear and distinct, no instruments overplaying or clashing, everything lean and pulsey. Given these guys have played with Chrissie Hynde, The Pogues and Brett Anderson, you really shouldn’t expect anything less, but it was impressive they pulled it off regardless of whether they were playing “traditional” rock ‘n’ roll or their heavier, more punky material.
It’s subjective, but in terms of other influences, I could hear a bit of Weezer, Therapy?, Franz Ferdinand and The White Stripes. The latter might generate a bit of a groan, as it’s an obvious comparison, albeit the introduction of a bass player does change that a bit. In an interview with Louder last year, the band, whilst confirming they weren’t against the idea of recruiting a bass player, dropped the joke, “What does a bass player use for contraception? His personality.” I’m not sure if it’s the assumption that all bass players are blokes or that, because I’m a bass player, it’s grossly unfair and I’m deeply offended*, but I won’t be telling this joke to any of my children . . . if I had any.
Another thing that impressed me about His Lordship was there was no messing about between songs. There’s little worse than a band being a complete shambles in those gaps between the noise, and I’ve seen some high profile acts being poor in this area to the point of it becoming cringe-worthy, especially when the vocalist tries to fill the silence with inane chat. Also, they didn’t do an encore, which is refreshing. I went to see comedian Jon Richardson a few years ago and he was exceptionally derisory towards the encore. I’m paraphrasing, but the message was along the lines of, Oooooh, we’re finished … Or are we? … We might be, but the house lights haven’t come up yet, have they? And we haven’t played our biggest hit yet, so … oooooh, maybe we’re going to come on again and if we do, you’ll all cheer like it’s a surprise and a special treat, even though we’ve done the same in 40 cities over the past few months . . . It’s nonsense, isn’t it? Just do your show, end it on a high and let everyone get back to their homes or hotels in time for the snooker. I wholeheartedly agree and, whether it was Jon Richardson’s influence, a venue requirement because of time, or His Lordship’s decision, it was the right one.
Difficult to define specific song highlights and the set included a good mix of original material and covers, though I was pretty taken by Buzzkill, Cat Walk and a cutting version of The Cramps’ classic The Way I Walk. It was a fantastic gig and a tight, energetic performance almost to Lee Evans sweat levels, just to continue the stand-up theme. If you ever get a chance to see His Lordship, take it, because they’re the kind of band you need to see live. Their recordings are high quality, but that energy can only truly be experienced if you’re in the same room as them. In the meantime, check out some of their excellent videos (especially ‘All Cranked Up’), the ‘All Cranked Up’ EP (available on vinyl) and their latest single, ‘Buzzkill’.
His Lordship very much brought an otherwise uneventful Tuesday night to life, but as crowd member Rab rightly said on Twitter, ‘Make it a Friday or Saturday night the next time’.
For more on His Lordship, head over to their website here.
Images courtesy of @trevorpake