Less can certainly be more, and that is definitely the case with two-piece rock band, The London Souls, at BSP Kingston in Kingston, NY on 1/30/16 whose minimalist approach yields big results. Tash Neal, guitar/vocals, and Chris St. Hilaire, drums/vocals, both rely on technique rather then technology. Neal’s hollow body guitar is run through only a few pedals and St. Hilaire’s drum kit contains only the essentials.
Shortly after the smoke cleared from an energetic set by local Kingston band, The Grape and the Grain, that contained some excellent songs and an over-zealous smoke machine, The London Souls strolled casually to their instruments and unleashed a funky version of “Am I Grooving You” which embodied the New York City band’s classic British Rock sound. An amazing amount of sound came from the two musicians; thunderous but intricate drums and sizzling guitar. The intensity continued as the duo charged right into “She’s So Mad” that illustrated that the two musicians vocals melded together just as well as their playing. It was not surprising that, like many classic British rock bands that were influenced by the blues, “Old Country Road” had a real throwback quality. “Honey” was the first song of the set from the band’s latest release, Here Come the Girls, and it oozed bluesy vocals and guitar. An excellent version of The Who’s “Magic Bus” was sandwiched between two other songs from Here Come the Girls, the hard hitting “The River” and the rhythmic and harmonic “Alone.”
A tasty drum intro and staccato rhythm guitar launched a crushing version of William DeVaughn’s masterpiece made famous by Curtis Mayfield, “Be Thankful for What You Got”, revealed the band’s soulful side. Furious guitar solos by Neil flourished over the polytechnic drumming of St. Hilaire during “The Sound”. The band opted to just announce that they would play a few more songs instead of leaving the stage and coming back for an encore. St. Hilaire took over lead vocals for the second time of the show for “Bobby James”, the final song of the set from the 2015 Here Come the Girls album. The London Souls paid homage to the recently departed music icon David Bowie with “Moonage Daydream” to close out the show.
There is a clear musical bond shared by Tash Neal and Chris St. Hilaire and it shows in their improvisational instrumental jams, harmonies and the energy that surges between them. The two musicians have been playing together since they were teens and have been writing and performing as The London Souls since 2008. When a band has as much chemistry as The London Souls, why would you need more than two members?