Live: His Lordship / Us

His Lordship's James Walbourne (Picture: Adam Williams)
His Lordship's James Walbourne (Picture: Adam Williams)

Norwich Arts Centre April 14, 2023

by Dave Stevens

Us are a four-piece garage rock band from Finland who do a mixture of interesting covers and their own material.

The first couple of songs tonight are a rather disappointing racket, including the rare Bob Dylan track I Wanna Be Your Lover.

Us: A nice bunch of lads (Picture: Adam Williams)
Us: A nice bunch of lads (Picture: Adam Williams)

Fortunately, the rest of the set is a significant improvement, and one highlight is a cover of the Jim Pembroke song Just My Situation.

But they also have great songs of their own, such as the catchy single Paisley Underground, so the reliance on so many covers is surprising.

The Finnish outfit get the evening off to a good start (Picture: Adam Williams)
The Finnish outfit get the evening off to a good start (Picture: Adam Williams)

Maybe it’s just what they enjoy playing, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

They are a very polite bunch of lads and they all bow after every song in a manner reminiscent of The Beatles.

Us open proceedings at the Arts Centre (Picture: Adam Williams)
Us open proceedings at the Arts Centre (Picture: Adam Williams)

They end as they began, with a cover – Gene Vincent’s Say Mama. It’s a good start to the evening.

His Lordship stroll through the auditorium with James Walbourne clutching his trusty Gibson SG Junior and walk on stage to a trumpet fanfare.

The flamboyant Kristoffer Sonne (Picture: Adam Williams)
The flamboyant Kristoffer Sonne (Picture: Adam Williams)

They are dressed in black suits, white shirts and, with the exception of Walbourne, black ties. Drummer Kristoffer Sonne looks like the fictional spy Harry Palmer.

They dive straight into All Cranked Up. It’s a great song but the sound is atrocious, and Walbourne’s vocals are barely audible.

His Lordship bassist Dave Page (Picture: Adam Williams)
His Lordship bassist Dave Page (Picture: Adam Williams)

Halfway through the second song he gestures for the volume of his vocals to be raised (it must sound as bad on stage as it does for us), and after a couple more songs the sound is reasonable.

But the initially poor sound has spoiled what should have been an explosive opening.

Top notch: James Walbourne (Picture: Adam Williams)
Top notch: James Walbourne (Picture: Adam Williams)

Walbourne is a top-notch guitar-for-hire who has worked with many great acts, including Edwyn Collins, Ray Davies and The Pretenders/Chrissie Hynde, which is where he met Sonne, and His Lordship is the duo’s personal project and passion.

Joined on stage by the talented Dave Page on bass, playing raw and incendiary rock’n’roll is something they enjoy.

'Repressed frontman' Kristoffer Sonne (Picture: Adam Williams)
‘Repressed frontman’ Kristoffer Sonne (Picture: Adam Williams)

There’s some politics on display, with Jackie Works For The NHS introduced with a “Fuck the Tories” quip.

Meanwhile, Sonne’s drumming is flamboyant, with his arms flaying around in an exaggerated manner, leading to the occasional dropped stick. It’s clear that he is a repressed frontman and that sometimes comes out.

Riotous: His Lordship (Picture: Adam Williams)
Riotous: His Lordship (Picture: Adam Williams)

We get stand-up drumming on the Jack Scott/Cramps cover The Way I Walk, and he takes over on lead vocals for My Brother Is An Only Child as Page dispenses with his bass and does a turn on the drums. Sonne stands on the bass drum and swings the microphone wildly like Roger Daltrey, assaulting our eardrums with a megaphone.

Sleepwalk, an instrumental dedicated to Jeff Beck, takes things down a notch or two, but riotous service is resumed with I Live In The City and I Am In Amsterdam.

Returning to the stage for the encore, Walbourne professes his love of Norwich due to his many friends from the city, including Andy Hackett of The Rockingbirds.

And we get one last song, a cracking cover of Billy Lee Riley’s Red Hot, before it’s all over after just under an hour of short, sharp, snappy rock’n’roll.

James Walbourne is a fan of this part of the world (Picture: Adam Williams)
James Walbourne is a fan of this part of the world (Picture: Adam Williams)

Let’s hope they’re back soon, but with a better sound from the start.

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