"We are The BellRays and this is your Friday night!" With these parting words Californian rock and soul purveyors par excellence The BellRays sweatily exit, having just delivered an exhilarating salvo of Friday night alrightness!
An hour prior, their soulfully blistering set commences with a four salvo blast of 70's inspired hard rock salvation, including On Top and Pinball City (is this not THE quintessential name for a 70's inspired rock and roll shout out?!) As an opening statement of intent it's pretty damn impressive - like the MC5 jamming with prime period Tina Turner, back when her and Ike dealt exclusively in gritty as grease rhythm and blues.
BellRays front woman Lisa Kekaula is a vocal force of nature, her heady, soulful proclamations bringing whoops and shivers in equal measure - to say that this lady has an impressive set of pipes on her is somewhat of an understatement! To her right, husband Bob Vennum peels off prime period Detroit inspired guitar mayhem, while the rhythm section locks in and rides the tiger homeward bound to rock and soul salvation..
Following such a frenetic opening blast, the band then display their more textured and soulful musical nuances with a moving suite of tracks including Anymore, as well as the anthemic Power to Burn. With the bands impeccable influences it's no surprise to see them easily pull off an epically righteous take on Led Zeppelin standard Whole Lotta Love, and as the strains of stone cold classic early track Voodoo Train belt forth, the energy in the room continues to spiral as the sparks fly and ignite from the stage.
With the crowd baying for more, the band return for one final salvo, going out in a blaze with another early period fave, Blues for Godzilla - a homage to Japanese cult monsters as well as 70's cult rockers Blue Oyster Cult (with their track Godzilla) maybe? What is 100% certain is that it delivers a monster conclusion to an epic set of rock AND soul!!
By Anthony Gebhardt