Live Review: Dan Byrne, The Karma Effect, Gallows Circus and Kinstrife at Leo’s Red Lion on 14-01-23



If Carlsberg did birthday parties...

It’s not every day you’ll read a review of a birthday party on a website devoted to rock music. However, this was no ordinary birthday party. Steve Borkowski is one fifth of The Rock Cooperative (alongside Paul Paterson, Andy Yerlett, Mike Ward and Simon Harris). Five gentlemen dedicated to putting on gigs that showcase the best emerging classic, southern and blues rock. Their base is the wonderful Leo’s Red Lion in Gravesend, Kent. Steve invited four of his favourite bands to play to a full house of friends, regulars and a few newbies to celebrate his 50th birthday.

Before I get to the music, I must mention that Steve eschewed birthday gifts and asked that attendees considered bringing some supplies for the Hive Hope Foodbank. The response was phenomenal, and the food bank volunteers filled a van and a car to the roof with the donations. A fantastic response from the rock fans. 

Kinstrife opened proceedings. The Hereford based four piece are a tight powerful hard rock band. Vocalist Mike Hoskins has an easy, matey style about him, someone you could enjoy having a beer with and be comfortable in his company. They opened with their last single release to get the crowd going. Some tracks from their debut album were interspersed with an unreleased song ‘Sweet Angel’ and an excellent cover of the Jerry Lee Lewis classic, ‘Great Balls of Fire’. The crowd were packed in from the off and loud in their appreciation of the band. 

Second on, were Gallows Circus who were performing their first gig with new guitarist Oscar Rees. Their blues influenced hard rock works really well live, with their dirty riffs and solid rhythm section.  Drawing on their two superb EPs and singles, they provided the crowd with plenty of familiar tunes. Vocalist Ian Day apologised for not being quite 100%, due to a bug he had picked up during the week, but he managed to provide sufficient of his considerable vocal quality, to make this a good set. Oscar Rees had a good debut and showed he is a good fit for the band, demonstrating his excellent guitar skills. I’m hoping his arrival may spark some new material for both studio and live shows. Gallows Circus have always been good live, and this looks set to continue with this incarnation of the band. 

I’ll admit to being a little obsessive about the third act, The Karma Effect, ever since I saw them live at their second ever gig in August 2021, at The Fiddlers Elbow in Chalk Farm, London. Once in a while I click with a band live that means I can’t get enough of them. This Surrey based 5-piece play a classic rock sound, with a swagger and groove influenced by The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and The Black Crowes, to name a few. Their eponymous debut released last year achieved better than expected for such a new band. The twin guitars of Henry Gottelier and Robbie Blake are at times reminiscent of the sounds of classic Thin Lizzy. Ash Powell on drums, provides the groove, ably supported by Liam Quinn on bass, who always looks in his element on stage.  Seb Emmins on Keyboards, at times provides chops reminiscent of 1970s Stevie Wonder (think Superstition).  Their set drew largely on their album, with anthemic choruses to the fore. They also played two unreleased songs that are likely to see the light of day as part of the second album, currently being recorded. There were many in the audience familiar with their songs and sung them back at the band with gusto. You could see the band were genuinely surprised at the response from the crowd. 

Headliner was Daniel Byrne, until a few months ago, the lead singer with Merseyside based Revival Black. He has decided to strike out solo, and this event saw him test drive an electric band, featuring Chris Allan on drums, Louis Malagodi and Glenn Quinn on guitars, with Saul Watson on bass.  The band were superb, providing Byrne with a tight cohesive platform for his considerable vocal talents. The set was a mixture of Revival Black material, some from Myke Gray’s back catalogue, who Daniel Byrne has collaborated with, and some new songs, which were very strong and provide confidence that Byrne has made the correct decision to go solo.  The crowd were with them from the start, and you could feel the enjoyment as they sang along with the familiar songs and joined in with enthusiasm in the audience participation encouraged by Byrne. This was an impressive live debut for Daniel and his band and I look forward to more gigs, hopefully some festival appearances, and new recorded material.  

This was a superb evening of live music, with a pumped up crowd, crystal clear sound and the usual Rock Cooperative efficiency. The bonus was the contributions to a worthy cause. A memorable evening.  


Photos by Neil Jackson

Flaming Pint


Leo’s Red Lion



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