“Chance you may know this one, chance you may not,” lead vocal and guitarist, Johnny Mathias tells the expectant crowd in West London’s the Troubadour. A telling statement, because chances are you’ve heard it before. The quartet, Johnny, Teddy, Pete Mathias and Casey Gibson (three brothers and a lifelong friend), sound like a song from a by-gone era, one you remember vaguely but the title escapes you, as it remains just beyond your grasp. Playing from their eighth album, ‘The Nerve’, the formidable foursome are a brawling rock band with organ swells, reminiscent of late 60s and 70s age of rock; more VH1 Classic than MTV2.

On circular tables, stickered with the Troubadour’s musical past, roses stand in empty beer bottles. This intimate setting, framed by amorous couples, seems at odds with the stadium classic rock the quartet plays, identifying the changes that needs to be made. Johnny, exuding confidence, idly strums his guitar whilst sauntering off the low-raised stage, casting the venue with an authoritative eye. And where the act before had failed to shift the couples off their seats when requested, Filligar didn’t need to ask. The audience did so, inching ever closer to the boys as the night drew on.

The crowd’s trepidation may be a visual aid to chart Filligar’s career so far. On paper, they aren’t doing anything new and so have become overlooked, dismissed even. But when they exhibit as much zeal and energy in their performances, you can’t help but inch your way closer to them.

With ten years already under their belt, the boys have a definitive style. They are discernibly Classic American Rock revivalists. By pigeonholing themselves, they have, however, simultaneously aged themselves and stunted their growing talent for a band whose average age is 23. At times their self-penned songs appear familiar, like those of a seasoned musician yet composed in a youthful and modern perspective. At other times they aren’t so fortunate, as they sound imitative, like a cover band on a Sunday night.

A well-played tribute song can, however, anchor a set much like Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’ does. Serving as a refreshing pause from the anthemic set, the homage to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young displays restraint with a raw and unpolished performance that is so far otherwise unseen. This showcases Filligar’s versatility and capabilities were they to open themselves to experiment with the pattern.












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