- Live Review: Walkway @ Plough & Harrow, London - 7/107/10
The music of Walkway may not be breaking any boundaries and a little heavy on the cliche for some, but they’ve got their stagecraft down to an art. It’s no surprise that they have been delighting crowds big and small across Europe over the last few years, and it would be no surprise if they continue to do so for years to come.
If one thing can be said for the Plough & Harrow, it’s that it certainly catches one off guard as a venue. Although seemingly a non-assuming pub on the Leytonstone High Road, contained within is a surprisingly spacious and well-equipped music hall, with a packed schedule of rock acts and tribute bands adorning the walls. Tonight is to be no exception as the crowd gathers in anticipation for Walkway, one of the hardest-working young bands still flying the flag for British rock ‘n roll.
Support duties on this occasion fall to It’s So Easy, a London/Peterborough-based Guns N Roses tribute act. It’s a fitting introduction, and a pleasure to see a group playing for the sheer love of the music as opposed to an overly-serious, desperate attempt to emulate the original. Dodgy wigs and some sensational dance moves add to the fun, and although lacking their “Izzy” through earlier traffic problems, they still boast a full sound and do justice to the classics.
“The band themselves are a tight unit, with lead singer/rhythm guitarist Chris Ready proving himself a perfectly suited frontman with his powerful, dexterous vocals and Jagger-esque charisma”
Now it’s Walkway’s turn. Since releasing their debut album, Top Shelf Content, in 2012, the group have made quite the name for themselves through their brand of driving classic rock, extensive touring (playing in a staggering 335 shows between 2013 and 2015 alone) and through their fortune having supported a plethora of big names, including Black Stone Cherry, The Darkness and, of course, the mighty Status Quo. Now promoting their second album, Streetwise, with a follow up planned for later this year, there just might be no stopping this band in the near future.
A few songs in, and it’s clear to see how Walkway have become such a success story over the last few years. Rather than sticking to a rigid structure for every show, the group understand their audience, bringing in more covers for the casual pub crowd than they would for a much larger gig. As would be expected, this works well, with fan favourites from The Who, Rush and a number of others sliding in superbly between the band’s original numbers. The band themselves are a tight unit, with lead singer/rhythm guitarist Chris Ready proving himself a perfectly suited frontman with his powerful, dexterous vocals and Jagger-esque charisma. Lead guitarist James Ready boasts some serious skill as he bounds around the stage offering lick after sublime lick, whilst the rhythm section of bassist Alex Rosedale and drummer Joe Evans manage to hold everything together while simultaneously standing out in their own right.
Of their original songs, it is perhaps the newer material that grabs the most attention, with a heavier groove that still works well alongside their more standard formula. However, it’s not the perfect performance, and a few flaws do stand out. Now, within the realms of classic rock, there’s a certain hint of cliche, schlock and cheese to be expected. It’s all part of the fun, but certain elements of Walkway’s show did feel a tad over-rehearsed; there’s only so many times you an introduce a song with a high kick in one set before it starts to feel stock instead of spontaneous rock ‘n roll antics. Furthermore, the older originals on offer lack variety from the standard classic rock formula of previous decades, and there are times where it felt that there’s just a little something missing to bring the genre into the modern era.
However, this is something that’s definitely made up for by their newer material, and it would be impossible to pick out a weak song amongst the bunch. The set finishes (because why the hell not?) with a cover of ‘Free Bird,’ and while James Ready struggles with his aptly-showy drumstick-slide guitar solo, you’d be forgiven for missing it once a note-perfect outro kicks in, and the fact that the song’s inclusion seems first and foremost for the enjoyment of the crowd just helps them clinch that rapport even more firmly. The music of Walkway may not be breaking any boundaries and a little heavy on the cliche for some, but they’ve got their stagecraft down to an art. It’s no surprise that they have been delighting crowds big and small across Europe over the last few years, and it would be no surprise if they continue to do so for years to come.