Gracing the Exeter Phoenix last month with both old tracks and new were Wille and The Bandits who hail from Cornwall. Travelling around Europe with their internationally-acclaimed roots, rock, reggae – and Latin, and Eastern – sound, Wille and The Bandits were on the South-West leg of their tour. We caught up with them before the show, you can read what we chatted about HERE.
For this gig, they were supported by the wonderful Exeter-based Lukas Drinkwater and Tobias Ben Jacob, whose new EP is coming soon. Double bass, Spanish-style guitar and whispered vocals made for an intimate and tight performance, so keep your eyes peeled.
Stepping onto the stage, Wille and The Bandits were met with cheers from an excited audience. They flung head-first into a rock heavy track, with Matt Brooks on bass, Andrew Naumann on drums and a trademark-top-hatted Wille Edwards on acoustic guitar. Keeping to the same tempo was ‘Gypsy Woman’, a hell of a blues rock single from their 2013 album ‘Grow’. In this track, gritty, raw vocals are paired with hard-hitting drums and bass, and suffice to say, the Phoenix Auditorium was filled with swaying bodies.
Next, the band moved to ‘Angel’, a beautiful, Latin-influenced instrumental with masterful guitar, at first a lullaby before slipping into a faster tempo with djembe drums. It all sounds a little like Santana, and when the band later played ‘Black Magic Woman’ (we’ve not forgotten you, Fleetwood Mac), it was no surprise but endlessly pleasant.
Their next track was a classic rock tune with plenty of Wille’s famous slide guitar – a new track, inspired by a moment on tour, “flinging open the van door into a front garden.” Wille also mentioned the “unexpected passenger” they picked up in Calais, inspiring them to write a new and heartbreaking song. On the other hand, there was also a story involving misleading directions to a car park and the night-time shenanigans of the people in said car park – but we’ll leave you to figure that one out yourself, if you ARE curious and wish to find out more, take a look at the INTERVIEW we did with the guys before the show
Another new track was ‘Forgiveness’, opening with a slow, purposeful and dark solo from Matt on his funky looking double bass and entrancing the audience. Gentle drums are joined by Wille’s near-rapped lyrics, before electric guitar comes in and drives the song into a climactic chorus. ‘Chillout’ was also played, one of my favourite songs of Wille and the Bandits, the tongue drum bringing a unique beat to the heavy track.
This is a band that’s carving their own in the world of rock and roots, and I’m yet to meet a person who hasn’t loved their music once they sit down and listen. There’s a new album in the pipeline – don’t miss out, and watch this space.