Setting the evening of live music at The Robin 2 on this sunny Monday evening was acoustic solo performer Tone Tanner who did his personal take on a selection of standards including Freddy King; Leadbetter, Rory Gallagher and into this mix some self-penned numbers.
Ali Clinton Band upped the tempo as a trio of rock musicians with Ali up front on guitar and vocals , drummer and keys; the guitar sound from Ali was impressive, when you see this dynamic young artists impressive playing experience it all becomes clear as having played the guitar since the age of 7 he was playing with Irish legend Pat McManus and having his first album appearance on “2PM” then at the age of 16, playing guitar for Uli Jon Roth’s band the experience gained touring UK & U.S.A. Is self-evident as he confidently fronted the band and engaged the audience.
This is a band that is full of young raw talent with Owen Thomas on drums and Paul Rahme on keys; this is a trio that will just grow and grow as they hone their skills and deliver an E.P. reflecting the talent displayed whether delivering covers or some of Ali’s self-penned numbers. The rendition of Queen’s; Crazy was excellent and his fitting tribute to Johnny Winter delivering a fine version of Medicine Man on a Firebird as well true respect for a great artist. This is a guitar talent to watch and a band that should be heard live at venues across the land.
Then as the shadows lengthened Layla Zoe and her band stepped onto the stage for the last night of her very successful first U.K. Tour and the crowd was excitedly awaiting her the voice they had heard so much about on the social network buzz. Layla opened with a spine-tingling gospel A Capella; O Lord I Want You To Help Me the audience were instantly hooked into the music and just wanted to sit back, listen and be entertained. Layla captivated the audience, she was mesmerizing with her sexy curvy dancing during the numbers and her firebrand hair swishing and swirling as Layla sung her way into everybody’s heart and soul. It is not surprising that she is known as Canada’s Lady of the Blues, with her expressive voice that winds itself around the words and then emotionally engages with the music, picking up the beat twirling the song into a complete package that ebbs and flows from the stage across the auditorium and fades into the night air. She has an eclectic sound mixing up gospel, rock soul but always the blues in every shade flowing through the tracks with the help of her talented band Hardy Fischoetter, Drums and Gregor Sonnenberg completing the rhythm section and to her right Jan Laacks on guitar.
The musicianship was perfect providing the backdrop and breathing space for the star of the show Layla and her voice. It is far to simple to say she is a Janis Joplin yes her voice has the power and she has an engaging stage presence but the reality is Layla is a songbird that sings with fire in her belly, compassion in her heart and engages your brain with some poignant and angry lyrics, with reference to inequality and corporation dominance products of today’s society. Layla was the Queen Bee on the Robin 2 stage she was in charge of the band and the audience who were putty in her hands.
The venue on a Monday night was only half full a tragedy that so many people missed the opportunity to hear the live performance of Layla as she sang a selection of tracks from her sixth and highly acclaimed album The Lily; the title track, The Lily is emotionally charged and sent shivers across your emotional radar as she sang about how she wanted to be remembered and always the music lives on. This was the highlight of the evening and with that she was emotionally drained leaving the stage so that the band could be centre stage and show the audience there collective talents as the band jammed together. Then Layla was back at the front of the stage with They Lie and then a lengthy number which you never wanted to end as she bent the notes, a memorable rendition of It’s A Man’s World, that so suited Layla Zoe’s vocal range.
Then all too soon it was the closing track of the night with a sexy blues number ‘Rock and Roll Guitar Man, from her Sleep Little Girl album Layla teased the guitarist as she explored the riffs he was playing as together they made live music that was interactive, grown-up and fun, blues that howled and made you feel alive. If anyone says to you blues is boring or staid send them to Layla, Rock & Roll guitar man on You Tube they will have to reassess their description of the blues. This was a show that was full of music and life in the fast lane as the guitar echoed her vocals with mimicry and a mix of tenderness and sex appeal. Layla is full of life and energy that can belt out a number and then quieten a phrase down so the potency of the lyrics seeps into your bones. The band and Layla left the stage and the roar for an encore was truly meant, and Layla stepped back onto the stage finishing the show as she begun alone on the stage and did a sensational A Capella version of The Beatles, Let It Be like I have never heard before, what a talent, thank you for travelling across the channel to truly entertain us, come back very soon we want to hear you again and those that missed you this time will want to find out why you have caused such a stir… Thank you the first lady of the blues……