Review: Inglorious and Mercutio @ Chalk

Words by Deus Kane, photos by Gili Dailes

Last Monday, at Chalk in Brighton, we witnessed the return of an act not seen since before the great embuggerance, some eighteen months ago: Inglorious, a recently reinvented hard rock band from London. When I first entered Chalk, I was struck at just how crowded this venue was, especially for a Monday night. But given their reputation for high crowd engagement and strong cult following, it was not too much of a surprise. I was expecting this to be a night to remember.

They were supported by Mercutio, a Shakespearian-named but not very Shakespearian acting classic rock four-piece. They are quite new to the scene, at least in their current incarnation, but they performed with the power and confidence of a much more established band. Although they’ve only released one EP so far, they’re definitely one to watch.

Inglorious came on, in typically eccentric style, to the theme tune from 1970s BBC sports TV programme Grandstand. Although they are very much a rock band, you would not necessarily know it from looking at them. They wore a range of styles; the usual all-black, pinstripe, and even a lace blouse. Lead singer Nathan in particular does not look as you might expect;  he gave off such an air of friendliness and charm – quite unusual for a hard-core rocker – that it almost caught me off-guard when he started screaming his lines. 

They opened with their recent hit She Won’t Let You Go, and the crowd went wild. In a venue the size of Chalk, you can really feel the energy emanating from a crowd, and these guys live on it. There wasn’t much of the outlandish acrobatics you see from more punky bands, but they filled the stage with their presence. Most of all their frontman, who strode confidently and elicited constant engagement from the crowd with broad gestures and occasional asides.

Following that, they performed several of what might be considered “odd choices” for a rock band. The tour is to promote their new Heroine album, which consists entirely of covers of iconic female artists’ songs (from a variety of eras), and much of the set was chosen from that. Not that the performance suffered from it; the next song was a cover of Miley Cyrus’ Midnight Sky, and it was every bit as rock-and-roll as promised. The beat was strong, and the energy high.

Incidentally, Nathan had mentioned during the address to the crowd that he was suffering from a cold, and that he might miss the high notes. I would not have known, and I have to say that if this was him operating with an impairment, I cannot imagine what he is like at the peak of his ability. Nathan not only sang beautifully, but continued to encourage audience participation throughout. He is a consummate showman, and it is a skill that vastly improves a gig.

After a pounding and exuberant (and slightly extended) cover of Alanis Morisette’s Uninvited, the action temporarily slowed down. Nathan addressed the crowd directly to explain what a hard time they had had over lockdown, being unable to work or claim furlough, and how glad they were to be back performing live music. There was real emotion and human connection behind these words.

The band used the change in tone as an opening to play two slightly slower, less intense songs: acoustic versions of Glory Days and Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time. While the second might seem out of place for a gig like this, it really did not feel that way. The two acoustic songs served as an opportunity for Phil Beaver (normally on drums) to join Danny on guitar and show his multi-instrumental skills. The quality of the string melody was sublime, and a perfect accompaniment to the singer’s more melodic and somewhat higher-pitched vocals.

After the acoustic interlude, they returned to their more uptempo fare, playing several fan favourites from their last few albums, a particular highlight being Holy Water from their first album, which attracted the largest crowd participation of the night, with fans holding their hands aloft and singing along to every word. The atmosphere was positively electric, and it could have held for hours.

Unfortunately, the venue was needed for a club night, so the gig was shorter than they deserved. They closed with We Will Ride, from the album of the same name, to thunderous applause. They walked off, and the cheering and whooping continued for some time. Of course they came back, and elicited one final paroxysm of drunken musical enthusiasm from the crowd by playing possibly their best-loved song, Until I Die.

Inglorous’ new album Heroine is available now for purchase or stream, and they remain on tour through the UK until October.

Inglorious (with support from Mercutio)

Chalk, Brighton

20 September 2021

Words by Deus Kane

Photos by Gili Dailes