Erja Lyytinen brings the Warmth of Finnish Blues to Bristol Tonight
Tonight The Tunnels welcomed Erja Lyytinen and her support band Red Butler to Bristol for the first and definitely not the last time. Tuesday night was blues night that filled the arches with music that was full of energy and played with style.
Opening tonight Red Butler with their new line-up that many in the audience had not had the opportunity to hear yet. Alex Butler, Mike Topp and Charlie Simpson are joined by Dan Spellman on vocals and guitar. With a change of vocalist, the dynamics of the band have definitely changed. The interactions between the four members on a cramped stage space was natural and full of energy that is the fuel for their rocky blues. With Dan as the vocalist adds a harder edge to their sound, which certainly suits the direction they took on Nothing To Loose. The set reflected this with the numbers taken predominately from the album. The new vitalized Red Butler tonight added to their skills some brilliant harmonization between Alex, Dan and Mike. The whole set was played with aplomb, the sound was very tight and the interplay between the guitarists was intuitive and worked well set against the rhythm section.
Calm Before The Storm was a highlight, they nailed it. Other highlights of a short set that showcased the band was Belly Of The Blues, rearranged and sounds better with new vocalists adding a layer of drama. Crowd-pleasing cover of Bobby Bland’s Ain’t No Love In The Heart of the City. With the rocky edge more akin to Bernie Marsden/Whitesnake version and sounds wonderful and the audience gladly added their voice to the chorus. Mike took the role of the wolf, complete with a mask for Big Bad Wolf, combined with the music adding to the live experience. A great set, the only pity was not more people had turned out on a Tuesday to hear blues rock at The Tunnels.
Short break, change of sound man, Mikko Kiviniemi takes charge of the desk as Erja Lyytinen and her band take control of The Tunnels. For those familiar with the queen of the slide guitar, already familiar with her new direction on Stolen Hearts her current album provided anticipation for a night of full-on blues that flexes its muscles. Her music explores and captures the vibes of funk, prog rock and more. The energy flowed from the stage and across the venue. The band was determined that everyone was going to have fun and be left with a memory of musicianship that brought music alive.
The band provided the cascading backdrop of sound from which Erja could fly with her vocals and guitar. Tonight in control of Hammond and keys from the magical energised fingers of Harri Taittonen. Whilst the deep and sometimes dark rhythms were delivered by bassist Juha Verona and Kai Jokiaho on drums. A powerhouse captured in a quartet. Erja the flying Fin with her sparkling Sapphire blue guitar and glass slide set the second half of the evening into a tumultuous celebration of the blues, a theme she returned to throughout the evening.
Despite the disappointing turnout Erja did not disappoint with a wonderful balance of authentic Blues, Blues Rock and ‘Proggish Rock’ showcasing why she is so popular and is gaining a fan base whenever she plays in the UK. Her guitar work is impeccable, full of grace and style and her interaction with the audience is warm Erja Is the real deal. The set delivered was storming as they played the last gig of the current UK tour.
With numbers from Stolen Hearts including the title track that was a highlight with lots of joyous interaction and community singing for the chorus. The centre piece and the absolute highlight of the evening was Black Ocean. With deep driving blues textures, heavy riffs and rhythms reflecting the ocean swell dark and dangerous. Erja tonight bought prog-blues to Bristol. We loved it. Showing the depth and breadth of style across the album we had slow blues a thing of beauty as Slowly Burning curled around the arches. Then Rocking Chair the interaction between guitar and bass is immense. As Juha, on bass reflects the rocking beat of the Rocking chair. Live musical magic.
With a Ko Ko Taylor cover, full of slide blues that is rooted firmly in the original African source; and delightful instrumental solo from Erja as she showed the styles of the greats. A medley full of subtle changes and interest that was delivered with fun as she asked the audience if they knew of BB King, Charlie Patton and many more.
With Cross Town Traffic given the Erja treatment along with her version of Steamy Windows an opportunity to be sexy with the audience and get close and personal with Juha on bass. All too soon it was time for the final numbers. People get Ready where we were treated to guitar that resonated the tone and style of Jeff Beck. Erja tonight was Queen of the Blues. Her playing majestic, stylish with a hint of bedevilment and fun. Live music doesn’t get much better than this!