They say rock stars are a dying breed but they're not hard to spot when they do appear and with his explosion of blonde hair, sunglasses and shirt opened to the waist Kory Clarke of Warrior Soul is certainly that. The band may be booked in the smaller of the two Academy venues engulfed by a shopping centre in Angel but it certainly doesn't hold them back. Over the next sixty plus minutes the reconstituted '90s rockers go on to deliver a fat-free yet cliche rich set that grabs the aged crowd and doesn't let go.
Before Korey and his hired hands hit the stage newcomers Zodiac N' Black fire off a focused blast comprising of cuts from their newly pressed album The Aftermyth - their sound is an amalgam of the names strewn across black t-shirts on punters backs throughout the venue. The sound is clear and the musicianship spot on, as tracks like Bastinado, The Joke Is On Us and the Killing in the Name aping bass heavy riff of Only the Lonely rouse the partisan crowd with Jad's big vocals and plenty of soaring guitar. To this end the applause takes them aback with Jad commenting that they've turned their backs in the past to save themselves the pain of indifference well, not tonight.
On to the main event and Warrior Soul, a band that didn't quite make it 25 years ago when Guns N' Roses were the biggest band in the world, returning in the 21st century in very different circumstances for rock. Kory is now 50 odd years old but still very much the consummate frontman leading his band through a grin inducing trip through his back catalogue. It's punk-edged and direct with Kory certainly in better voice than Axl Rose is in 2012. Kicking off with a raucous Junkie Stripper sets the tone and Kory has the crowd in his pocket asking the soundman to turn up the monitors as "you guys are makin' too much noise!" as they rattle into A Drink To All My Friends also off latest effort Stiff Middle Finger. When he is wailing, "We are the government/We are the government" you think that Soundgarden's Jesus Christ Pose could've been written about Mr Clarke such are the messianic rock shapes he's pulling but other lyrics like "she's horny but she ain't no whore" are too Spinal Tap to be taken any other way than with a big pinch of salt.
Yes, this might be out-dated and, at times, slightly dubious but just imagine a world without showmen, songs about drugs and rebellion and loads of wah-wah guitar. Boring, that's right. With the minimal stage accoutrements and no light show to speak of it's down to the band and the songs to pull it off and Clarke undoubtedly walks it like he talks it on classics like We are the Government. Politics and art matter to him but so does having a good time. In the end, it's best left to the man himself on Charlie's Out of Prison when he sings: "In Detroit, they make guns/Lotsa cars, lotsa criminals/You get big, you get hard/But you don't get too successful" but he's still here and so are we.