Howlin’ Rain – if there’s one modern band that captures the sound and spirit of those big bombastic soul-infused rock bands like Humble Pie, who relentlessly toured the arenas of America in the early to mid-1970s, it’s them. Tonight, however, we’re not in Madison Square Gardens or the Hollywood Bowl we’re at a pub venue in north London. Formed by vocalist, Ethan Miller, in Oakland, California ten years ago they’ve now released several superb albums. Though hardly a household name they’ve built up a loyal following in the UK and the venue is packed out by the time the band come on stage.
Howlin’ Rain have a great collection of songs – even if you’ve never heard them before they sound like you’ve been singing along to them for years, while still remaining fresh and original. The band themselves, with Miller on vocals and guitar, a superb lead guitarist in Isiah Mitchell, wonderfully soulful backing vocals and a magnificently energetic rhythm section, work really, really together. From the slower soulful numbers to the wilder rock-outs, they sound absolutely superb.
I just love the fact that there’s a band in 2014 making music like this, not cover versions, not pastiches but capturing the spirit and essence of a genre dominated by the likes of Humble Pie, The Allman Brothers and Creedence Clearwater Revival in the early seventies and doing something fresh and original with it. The audience, predominantly male but evenly ranged from early twenties to mid-sixties clearly agreed.