Head of the Herd filled a packed Petit Campus Sunday night with their raw, bluesy riffs, steady, driving rhythms, and highly personal lyrics. The Vancouver song-writing duo, featuring Neu Mannas and Clayton Frank, is touring Canada with a five-piece band to promote their second album, By This Time Tomorrow, released October 22. They played a selection of tunes from the new album as well as a few from their first, On The House. The charismatic Neu charmed the audience with his banter and his attempts to speak French, while Clay kept a quieter, more mysterious profile.
I’ve been listening to this band pretty much non-stop for a couple of months now, and I’m still not sick of them. Sunday’s show confirmed that this is one of the best new acts to appear in recent years. Influenced by everyone from Muddy Waters to the National, Lil Wayne to Queens of the Stone Age, their sound is gritty and authentic, and the intense stories they tell are both personal and universal.
The show opened with “Little Lamb,” and closed with “Knock Me Down,” both from the first album, both break-up songs featuring hunter and prey, pain and heartache and blood and strength: classic Head of the Herd, expressed through wailing harmonica melodies and guitar solos and strong grooves. Other highlights included the more laid back “Breathe Me Baby,” a tragic song about suicide; the more rocking “Elizabeth”; the Johnny Cash cover “25 Minutes to Go”; and a great cover of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues.”
Opening act The Glorious Sons deserve a little shout-out too. The lead singer did a good job channeling Jim Morrison, and not just in the band’s cover of L.A. Woman. They have some good original tunes and put on a high-energy, if slightly amateurish, show. Give them a few years to mature and refine their style and they may be headlining their own shows.