Simon Campbell and Suzy Starlite ~ Live @ The Convent

Simon Campbell andn Suzie Starlite - The Convent - Sept 2015_0027l

Simon Campbell & Suzy Starlite
@The Convent 25th September 2015

 

 

Simon Campbell andn Suzie Starlite - The Convent - Sept 2015_0049lBluesdoodles is back for the second time in a week to this unique and very special venue, the welcome and warmth from the moment you step in to The Convent, through to the show where the sound has a depth that you would not expect from an old chapel sound that resonates with echoes of the stone and vaulted ceilings. Tonight in Stroud and across the world via Netgig we have Simon Campbell & Suzy Starlite a duo who create music with a wealth of skill on guitar and bass, and joining them on the stage was Danilo Adriano Argenti Gener completing the rhythm section on drums and Christian Madden on Hammond and Grand Piano filling in the sound so that the audiences were drawn in to every varied rack offered tonight.

Simon Campbell andn Suzie Starlite - The Convent - Sept 2015_0067lSimon is definitely upfront with guitar playing that ranges from controlled blues, melodic acoustic, Rock n’ Roll energy and the exploration of the strings in the style of Prog Rock, in his white suit and straw hat he grasped your attention; and, more importantly, it was retained throughout the gig. He would not have the freedom to explore his music if he did not have a rhythm section that was that rare combination solid but not staid, the drumming from Danilo was inspiring sometimes showing that it can be more effective to do less with well-timed drum beats augmenting the full sound being delivered by the guitar keyboard combination. Danilo’s little half-shuffles and the use of sticks, standard, percussive mallets and brushes often with more than one type of stick in one hand there is a tonal texture and subtlety not normally heard from the back. Supporting Danilo in creating a rhythm section with hidden depths is Suzy Starlite whose bass playing engaged and was the perfect foil for the enthusiastic playing from Simon; it is amazing that she has being playing Bass for just eighteen months as she has a natural feel for creating the bass tone that compliments the tracks that varied across the set. The keys from Christian were sublime from full organ crescendos through to gentle notes he wrapped the third layer of chords around Simon’s guitar adding shape and texture to the lyrics as the story unfolded. This was a quartet that wanted to talk to you through their eclectic mix of tones on tracks including a collection from their current album The Knife, including the title track, Dreamer and Affairs of the Heart re-affirming the quality of the songs included. We also had an early listening opportunity for their anticipated forthcoming album The Coat; the title track saw Suzy leaving the bass and sitting behind the majestic Grand Piano, her vocal prowess had already been confirmed with some stylish Harmonising with Simon and she now sung a song very special to her and for everyone who has lost someone important or they are not there and was dedicated to her mother who has early onset-Alzheimer’s an thought-provoking and emotionally stirring number. The last song of the night Hello, which is also on the forthcoming album, had five distinct movement and, is definitely more Prog Rock than blues but worked so well with Suzy’s vocals, clever guitar solos. Each movement had its own distinctive shape and tonal character and for me full of interest and the pick of the set for me.

Simon Campbell andn Suzie Starlite - The Convent - Sept 2015_0062lThis was an exciting, intriguing at times challenging set stretching across all the styles of recorded modern music and it worked, they are certainly worth checking out as they will surprise and the musicianship is spot-on. Listen to what you missed from Simon Campbell and Suzy Starlite via The Convents Netgig; Bluesdoodles will and we were there on the night…

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Robben Ford support Tristan MacKay@ Komedia Bath 25th April 2013

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<a href=”http://www.komedia.co.uk/bath”>Komedia, Bath is a new venue for Bluesdoodles, and the theatre that at one time was a cinema was very majestic, the only tiny gripe was it was all seater, and as the seats downstairs had been carefully placed there could have been a standing area for the audience members who would prefer to stand. Opening the evening Tristan MacKay, a talented young solo acoustic artist who delivered a series of self-penned numbers that like many singer/songwriters straddle blues/folk. Tristan played an excellent set, delivered with aplomb and using his melodic voice to good effect, despite the level of noise from the audience arriving to see the main act of the evening. His banter between songs was good so we all got to know this young man a little bit better; including that Tristan was hailed from Devon and started his musical career busking in the small town of Tiverton, moving on to Leeds – larger but definitely colder! This combination of an easy, friendly manner with great guitar playing and singing at times reminded me of Marcus Bonfanti, which is no mean feat. Tristan has one CD under his belt and a second due to be recorded very soon on his label ‘Battered Hat Records‘; appropriately named as a battered hat is worn by Tristan on stage. Tristan though has a clever trick up his sleeve which he used with a light touch the use of the loop to bring additional layers of sound and at times deeper or different tone to the rendition as demonstrated on ‘Wire and Wood‘, adding a percussive timbre to this great song. The all too short set was mainly his own compositions, his cover of John Mayer’s ‘Gravity’ was not the first song you would associate with an acoustic act, but once again with the clever use of loop pedal, he achieved 3 or even 4 layers of sound. Tristan finished the all too short set, with a personal song ‘Lullaby for Layla‘ composed for his soon to be expected baby daughter; a beautiful song for what is a precious experience for this young man. The set was entertaining, inventive and the use of acoustic and electric guitars, depending on the song made this an impressive and popular with the audience support for the much-anticipated Robben Ford following after a short break.

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Robben Ford Band, a four piece, opened up with a funky number, ‘Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky‘, with Robben producing his trademark stunning tone from his Gibson 335. With immaculate timing and note perfection, combined with sublime accompaniment provided by a trio consisting of Rich Peterson, Keys, Tony Moore, Drums, and Brian Allen, Double Bass. It is the pure strength and talent of these three musicians that provides Robben with real freedom to sell his wares and boy can he play his guitar, with a unique blending of precision and passion. Tonight’s show was an opportunity to showcase his latest album, Bringing It Back Home, including, ‘Birds Nest Bound‘ written by Big Joe Williams which is a slower tempo classic blues and, as they all play a solo piece, there is a jam feel demonstrating that the band really knows how to listen to each other; and ‘Oh, Virginia” the only Ford authored tune on the album is a pretty romantic ballad delivered in a laid-back soulful way; with the emotional line, ‘ hard times hunger on’ with the band in perfect balance, creating layers of scintillating harmonies, with the growl of the bass, mellow chords from the organ, crisp sharp drumming and then the crowning glory Robben’s faultless guitar and voice that blends the emotion of the song and the instruments together. The show is an evening of changing tempo’s and origins, making every track delivered interesting and keeping the audience really engaged. The sounds produced were very modern, funky blues with a generous twist of jazz, the guitar licks were delightful, including subtle changes that were mellow and so relaxing, the breaks were never too long and always relevant to the song and the other musicians came in on the beat every-time. Robben started the gig off on a high note and the playing just got better and better as he and the band relaxed and played themselves into the zone; one of the highlights had to be his rendition of a traditional gospel tune which as he told us, we recorded it and called it ‘On That Morning‘, yes in this instrumental the guitar dominated, not in an aggressive way but through the purity of sound produced with the interlude of drum and bass, then Rich on keys joined in it was simply beautiful music, which was as sweet as a nut, pure pleasure, which was reflected in the warm applause, and amidst all this Robben quietly re-tuned his guitar and carried on no dramatics, no techie to assist, no this was professional musicianship and stage craft at the top of the tree. Robben’s, nephew Gabriel is a songwriter and drummer for Little Feat, wrote ‘Too Much‘ from the CD Truth and this saw a change of guitar as the Gibson SG was bought into action, providing a harsher edge to the sound which suited the track perfectly. This was a long set with no break for Robben who was upfront playing his heart out; then from Supernatural, ‘Nothing and Nobody’ written in collaboration with Mick MacDonald, the whole band was on stage; and then Robben left the stage and the trio remaining played on; then Rich Robben Ford -  Komedia Bath April 2013_0132lleft and the keys fell silent and a drum and bass duet was played, demonstrating the strength of the rhythm section without doubt the heartbeat of the Robben Ford sound; and then Brian Robben Ford -  Komedia Bath April 2013_0156lleft leaving the stage to the sole domain of Tony Moore, Robben Ford -  Komedia Bath April 2013_0164l who produced a a drum solo that was full of finesse, no crash bang wallop solo but one rising to a crescendo of absolute drumming power… wow what an interlude; and then the rest of the band came back on picked up the beat and carried on playing!
The whole gig was a jewel box of shining gems, every note was played and showcased to deliver the ethos of the songs, wow, this is going to be one of the gigs of 2013, an encore was demanded and they obliged with ‘Fool’s Paradise”, then all too soon it was the end, like me I am sure many in the audience wanted the music to go on and on.

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Henry’s Funeral Shoe @ Odins Rock Club, Ebbw Vale – 5th April 2013

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A packed house at, Odin’s Rock Club was geared up to be entertained once again by four acts, with Henry’s Funeral Shoe as head-liner. The evening started off with an acoustic act, Richard Gardner, the former ‘Circle Of One’ axe man who delivering powerful ballads delivered with an edge a mix of self-penned and surprising acoustic covers including AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’; this was not a soft and gentle set it had a deep down dirty feel to it at times. Richard was followed by two local South Wales Rock Bands. First storming the stage with a full-on sound are local act Dead Shed Jokers, delivered superb riffs and a solid sound, that showed this band were not joking about the delivery of rock that and twists of influences from Sabbath through to Muse that raised the temperature of the crowded venue.

They were quickly followed by another local band, ‘Fireroad‘, featuring Richard Jones as the band’s front-man, who played in his youth with Tragic Love Company the fore-runner of what became the Stereophonics. This band knows how to entertain delivering a class act that musically tilted their hat at the Phonics whilst have an originality that certainly got the crowds dancing to great songs from their album delivered with verve and energy playing great tunes by a band that really enjoyed playing together.


Then the head-line act that with a flourish this energised duo, Henry’s Funeral Shoe, stormed the stage with verve and energy that burned out of them delivering a high-octane mixture of their distinctive sound that defies pigeon-holing. They are definitely delivering spot-on music that is outside of the box whilst true to the roots of the sound they create they deliver song after song that is progressive blues rock with a large spoonful of attitude and a generous shake of punk. The brothers Aled on guitar and vocals and Brennig on Drums create an enormous sound that grows and grows as they shape their instruments to deliver a truly unique sound that pleases their growing following of dedicated fans. This is music that is different at times challenging but still accessible and pleasing to the ear, the pair are not different for the sake of it they are performing blues that is Welsh, edgy, rocky but still true to its original roots. Brennig’s percussive and powerful drumming leads the music on a journey that engages with the audiences with exciting use of sticks which he throws into the air catches and never misses a beat; he is the heartbeat of the band. Whilst Aled at the front displayed slide guitar skills that were simply awesome producing a swampy sound that merges with drum beat and at the same time soars above the rhythm section, which combines well with his gravelly rich voice adding texture and another tonal layer to this complex mix, that definitely does at times tip its hat to the Texan Blues/Southern Rock sound. Henry’s Funeral Shoe produces a full sound generating a quite unique take on the genre and is a band to watch out for and they are destined for success on the blues circuit having performed throughout Europe and USA and delivered two albums to date. These two a true showmen, who have drunk deep at the well of originality and merged this onto a solid backbone of blues that could only have been honed down at the crossroads; wow what more could you ask from a live act – stunning slide guitar and exciting colourful drumming hitting the right tempo every-time; no wonder everyone wanted more…. they could have played on and on and no-one would have complained.

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