West Virginia born and raised and unleashed in the sweaty clubs of Nashville, Gyasi has been treading the boards and wowing audiences for the past couple of years following the release of his mighty fine debut album ‘Pronounced Jah-See’.  

Channelling the flamboyancy of Bowie and Bolan, the rock n’ roll swagger of Led Zep, and even hints and nods to more modern Brit Pop influences, that debut was a pre-digital age tour-de-force of rock power and a statement of intent from an artist who is here to take over the world. Hey, wouldn’t it be great if he released a cool live album like all his heroes did back in the 70’s? If only he could show the world how to channel the rock power of The Stooges, Led Zep and T Rex… 

“Rock n Roll Sword Fight was recorded absolutely live in the USA” it says in the press blurb, and I absolutely believe it. A ten-track affair taken from several gigs. Recorded at Carnegie Hall (the Art Centre in West Virginia, not the famous concert Hall in New York), The Basement East, Nashville and the Bonnaroo Music Festival, this album is raw, unadulterated and in yer face! 

As the crowd cheer fades in and a bass riff rumbles, the band kick straight into ‘Cheap High’, a choppy, low slung riff and Ziggy Stardust wail from our illustrious frontman and we are off and running. This is how a live album should sound, I want to feel the sweat on my brow, the guitars reverberating in my ears and the electricity in the atmosphere. The band blast in to ‘Tongue Tied’, that signature 70’s glam rock stomp is created, there’s a sleazy swagger that owes as much to Jack White and The Black Keys as it does to 70’s glam rock.  

With a singer who looks like Mick Ronson meets Hedwig and wears platform boots and satin catsuits in 2024, I can only applaud the return of glamour to rock n’ roll. And when you have songs as good as ‘Fast Love‘ and ‘Godhead’ in your repertoire, then I don’t know how Gyasi can really fail. Close your eyes and you can just imagine the jaws dropping around you as the crowd witness this skinny-framed, satin-wearing dude, ripping on a Les Paul and showing them how rock n’ roll should be delivered. The aforementioned ‘Godhead’ sounds killer here. The guitars are raw and in your face, the vocals delivered with intent. The band sounds on fire. 

Turn the record over and side 2 kicks off with the recent single ‘Baby Blue’, a killer hook and a familiar riff that both reek of T Rexstacy., and that ain’t a bad place to be. ‘Sword Fight’ is as raw as you like, as our hero stretches his lungs over fuzzy, distorted riffs and pummelling bass. ‘Kiss Kiss’ brings boogie-woogie to the party and everyone is dancing by now. Licks are peeled off like the ghost of Johnny Thunders has entered the room, and c’mon…that hook is sublime, right? 

They end with ‘All Messed Up’ which is jammed out as an extended medley with a bit of Lou Reed and The Doors thrown in for good measure. 

Live albums can be hit & miss affairs. The intention should be to capture the feel and energy of the band in a live environment, maybe give the listener a glimpse of what it’s like to see the band live. Kiss’ ‘Alive’, Hanoi’s ‘All Those Wasted Years’ and Ramones ‘It’s Alive’, those are the benchmarks. And while Gyasi has a long way to go before he hits that legendary status, ‘Rock n’ Roll Sword Fight’ is one of those live albums that captures lightning in a bottle. A band on fire, who sound tight and energised, but still raw and punky, and more importantly they have the songs to match.  

This is one that is gonna get played a lot on my stereo, that’s a given. And it only makes me wanna see Gyasi live even more, The UK is waiting.   

Buy Here

Author: Ben Hughes