Having appeared on stage with Queen at the age of 9 you could say that nothing fazes Simon McBride. He has drawn comparisons with the likes of Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore; his high tempo rock/blues palette has won him many fans the world over.
On Tuesday however it was to the University of Ulster's Magee College campus in Derry that he appeared with his trio as part of the university's ongoing music@one series of concerts; which is there for to broaden the musical horizons of student and general public alike.
Playing his own brand of rock-blues and backed up by Dave Marks on bass and Marty McCloskey? on drums it seemed at first as if the audience gathered weren't sure how to react, many of them being sheepish music students who were perhaps beginning to tire from a morning of scholarly activity or perhaps eagerly anticipating their lunch, or (dare I say it) suffering the effects of some other student activity. In time though you could see the odd head bobbing or foot tapping.
Hard hitting anthemic rock would be the best way to describe McBride's brand of music, under-layered with the line of smokey blues. This is evident in many of the tracks played on the day including the opening song You Got a problem a number reminiscent of what through time and musical evolution has become known as the power ballad; but what this particular reviewer would simply class as a great rock song. From the band's playing and McBride's singing it was soon clear that the students were there for a master class and didn't realise it. The band moved swiftly on to a number with a familiar sounding title Down to the River but no, this wasn't that classic and much underrated Bruce Springsteen classic (which is simply called The River). This was the sort of high tempo rock song with a catchy tune and lyrics you found yourself almost believing you had known all your life. The sort with guitar riffs you can sit back and admire and thumping drum beats that can't fall to go unnoticed.
Down to the Wire , the next song on McBride's reportoire is the sort of stuff that legends are made of, reminiscent of the likes of Gary Moore; by now the students were sitting up and taking full notice. From here we were taken forward about twenty years or so with a song called Change, a song with a kind of early nineties vibe about it; the sort of thing the Red Hot Chili Peppers might have produced but without the rapy bits. Dave Marks certainly could be compared to Flea, at least in playing stakes. This leads swiftly on to Fat Pockets, the type of song about someone down on their luck with next to no money that everyone can relate to. On this track the trio show that they really can blend elements of the classic and contemporary effortlessly. It's also a track where Marty McCloskey on drums particularly comes into effect.
So Much Love to Give is classic rock balled with a rip-roaring edge given to it by McBride's boys.