Alan Sparhawk has had a relatively long and distinguished career as guitarist and frontman for Low. His more recent side project Retribution Gospel choir offer a very different musical proposition to the one he made his name with. While Lows trademark sound is slow, sombre and delicate with beautiful melodies, Retribution Gospel Choir are all about a straight down the line heavy rock sound, which offers Sparhawk the chance to cut loose a little and show his more theatrical side.

Within minutes of the band arriving on stage Sparhawk already seems to be in full swing and letting off steam and enjoying himself. They tear through ‘working hard’ from their recently released second album ‘2,’ it’s riff sounding like it could have come straight from a 70s road trip movie. Sparhawks head is bobbing wildly and with teeth clenched he leaps around the stage. He’s clearly having a good time, and so are the audience.

So far so good, and ‘Hide it Away’ carries on the tone with its soaring vocal and anthemic chorus. The bands passion and commitment are obvious, and Sparhawk cuts an intense figure, his face straining and he looks like he’s feeling every word and note.

Things do take a turn for the worst throughout the middle of the set. Some of the songs are noticeably weaker than others, a fact which isn’t helped by a couple of overblown guitar freak outs and misguided stoner grooves which add nothing to the songs and end up coming across as a little self indulgent.

They manage to pull it around a little with ‘Electric Guitar’, one of the set highlights which benefits from strong clear vocals, heavy drums and an awesome guitar solo, which is not only perfectly executed, but fits the song perfectly.

Overall Retribution Gospel Choir have plenty of excellent moments, but are let down by a couple of weak tracks and an inability to reign in some of their more prolonged jams. Seeing Alan Sparhawk unleash his rockier alter-ego is a pleasure, but it’s hard to ignore the feeling that this kind of thing has been done many times before by other acts, and often more effectively.