Sarah Borges & Girls, Guns and Glory
October 16th 2015
Looking infeasibly young for a band first formed nine years ago, the four members of Girls, Guns & Glory shuffled on stage only to find the bass speaker wasn’t working, so they stood around drinking beer and looking embarrassed as a tech guy fixed the problems. Then, without any introductions, they launched headlong into “Root Cellar” and took the gig by the scruff of the neck, and didn’t let go for a full hour.
On the second song, “Lonesome Train,” guitarist Chris Hersch discovered the twang button on his guitar, and the gig immediately cranked up another couple of gears. After all, singer Ward Hayden’s voice echoed both George Jones AND Roy Orbison.
With four albums to choose from, their selection of songs was never short of excellent. “All the Way” sounded achingly beautiful. My favourite track on their latest album, “Shake Like Jello”, was even more fun than on record, with Hayden using the mic stand like a punch bag. Following it with Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” was a stroke of genius.
On the album “You, You, You” is slightly less than memorable, but tonight it was an absolute highlight, with Paul Dilley’s bass emulating John Entwhistle, while Josh Kiggans pounded hell out of his drum kit.
When Hayden tried to play the opening chords to a brand new song, nothing came from the guitar. Before the tech guy was called for, Sarah Borges shouted something from the bar and the singer jiggled a wire, and, hey, presto! We had music! You know what they say: “If you want a job doing well; call a woman!”
And, just when I thought the gig couldn’t get any better, Borges was called onstage to sing their joint 45rpm single, Sonny & Cher’s “Baby Don’t Go”, which rocked like a yacht in a hurricane. It was followed that with a slow and sassy “Brown Bottle”.
The 60-minute supported slot ended with a rip-roaring “667” that very nearly had a standing ovation at the end.
As they were here to be Sarah Borges’s backing band, Girls, Guns & Glory aren’t your typical support band. But, this was their first ever UK gig and they immediately won over the Nottingham crowd. They will definitely be welcomed back as headliners.
After a short break, while GGG did a roaring trade selling CDs, Dilley, Kiggans and Hersch stepped onto the stage to loud applause that only increased to an ear-splitting level as Sarah Borges joined them for her first UK tour in five long years.
Wearing a short black skirt, sparkly blue top, and cowboy boots she strapped on the (now repaired) red electric guitar, she launched straight into a noisy “Streetwise Man” that had me thinking, “don’t mess with this girl!” A couple of guys at the back should have heeded this, as her acidic tongue lashings shut them up when they tried to be funny later in the evening.
Looking and sounding like she was having the time of her life, Borges turned “Big Bright Sun” into a slow, soulful, sexy song. “Daniel Lee” was a veritable twangfest.
Following another funny intro, BOOM! “Record on Repeat” was so loud and rocking, it nearly took the roof off the club… and it had me smiling like a fool. Later, on “Miss Mary”, I noted that she was now making Joan Jet sound like Joan Bi-Plane, and I still stand by that analogy. Sarah Borges is one hell of a country rocker.
As the curfew got closer and closer, Hayden was called back onto the stage for a potent version of Fred Eaglesmith’s “Drinking Too Much”. It was so raw, I half expected to see blood ooze from the speakers.
Two more rockers and the band left the stage, leaving Ms. Borges alone. She asked for someone to buy her another beer (quite a few had already been downed), and she’d sing another song. A bottle was produced and she was joined by Girls, Guns & Glory for a raucous version of “I Saw the Light” that included the singer standing on a table conducting the audience on a very noisy chorus.
What a night. Country music — and indeed rock and roll — just doesn’t get better than this.