Skegness Solid Live Music
More Blues than Rock in 2017
January drawing to a close, Christmas lights a fading memory. Then your calendar clicks around to Butlins, Skegness for the Great British Rock & Blues Festival, the next year of musical journeys begins. This year the emphasis is on Blues, Rock has fallen if not silent but reduced to a whisper this year, upsetting some and definitely changing the balance and feel of the weekend.
The Introducing Stage got the show underway from 4pm Friday until the early hours of Monday morning. The gaps were minimal the music quality, meeting of friends chatting about what stood out and having fun was the order of the day. The grumble about the lack of rock was justified. The title of the weekend is Rock & Blues so you would expect a balanced mixture. Everyone who knows me knows that I love my Blues of every hue, but I love the energy of Rock, the power of Rock and energy of the stage shows and this year this injection of power was missed. Without the balance of Rock and Blues, we didn’t have the contrast of razor-sharp, sparkling blues guitar and the full-on power chords and stinging licks of granite fueled rock.
Bluesdoodles, Liz Aiken enjoyed the weekend visiting the stages catching acts, missing others. With four stages this was a hectic few days. Starting off with the highlights across the days on Introducing Stage, run by Steve Stanley, of Solid Entertainments with the help from Paul Stiles and the Blues In Britain Team to hand out the voting disks. The Skeggie road takes us to Centre Stage – designated as ‘The Rock Stage’ by the Butlins programming team. The journey continues with a visit to Jaks with its late night sessions jams and a distinctive atmosphere, organised by Blues Matters. Finally, our travels and weary feet take us to Reds, 2017 the Blues stage. The programming was without argument patchy by the Butlins team what was good was very good, interspersed by mediocre and poor. The Road was definitely a Blue cobbled street rather than a rocky trail throughout the 2017 weekend. Let’s hope this is a transition year and next year the balance between Rock and Blues is restored. There are so many young exciting bands on the circuit that would be delighted to entertain the Skeggie crowds.
Now, for the music. GT’s Boos Band got the show under way and they were one of the thirteen excellent bands who delighted the crowded area at the heart of the Skyline Pavilion. The bands played for the chance of performing on a stage at Butlins 2018, decided by public vote. The three successful bands this year were Friday Night –Tom Walker Trio, Saturday, Southboundand the final finalist on Sunday was Greg Coulson Band. The competition was tough every band bought an interpretation of blues and rock that shows the depth of live music in the UK today. Tom Walker Trio, played a set that sparked including originals and an interesting, entertaining interpretation of Joe Bonamassa’s John Henry. Hitting the authentic blues spot Backwater Roll certainly pleased the audience in a packed area. Saturday night showed that this stage is getting more popular every year as the place to find new festival gems that you will want to see live again. Southbound were great on the night with a live performance showcasing the power of the rhythm section as they delivered their distinctive Blues Rock with a bucket of soul sound thrown in for good measure. Matt Edwards Band with Stuart Dixon on bass impressed as did their 2015 album Four Berry Jam. Matt has a voice that makes you listen and his guitar playing has an infectious tone. Amy Eftekhari’sperformance of Somewhere Over The Rainbow got the crowds purring with delight. Then it was Sunday two performances really stood out and on another day Elles Bailey would have won. Her vocals have power and the addition of Nick Garner on harp added another dimension to this class act; for me the winner of Sunday night. But the popular vote went to Greg Coulson, who delivered by surrounding himself with excellent musicians and a confident stage presence on the day. His experience as keyboardist with The Selectors shone through combined with strong numbers from his forthcoming debut album. This was party music that lit up the Introducing Stage.
Centre Stage is where queues form every night long before the doors open. At least now they are entertained by the adjacent Introducing Stage. This year designated The Rock Stage for the first time had one certainty rock would be hard to find. Friday night opened with one of last year’s winners Sugarman Sam & The Voodoo Men. Wow, the transition to main stage fitted the band perfectly with a strong set. The music was hefty blues-rock, punctuated with authentic blues licks that curled around the rhythm section. Sugarman Sam, is growing as the new number She’s A Woman demonstrated. The following act was Eric Sardinas & Big Motor highly anticipated and deeply disappointing in the delivery. Yes, a string did break, but why the length of time off stage, as so many said surely someone of this calibre should have a spare guitar tuned for slide, do a different number or have a guitar tech. It was left to the bass player, Paul Loranger who held the fort not once but twice as Sardinas left the stage and flounced off again. What the band played was good but the flow of the set was disjointed and definitely an off night for this colourful performer of Rock-blues.
Saturday with two sessions the afternoon opened by Texas Flood another winner from 2016. What a winning Rock n’ Roll set. Texas Flood definitely washed away any cobwebs with a rip-roaring high octane set that rocked. This is the rock we want to hear at Skeggie, but why the early timing? It was not as if the evening bands were that exciting. The energy was high, the timing sharp they certainly did Wales proud! The interplay between guitar and bass was sharp and entertaining. Closing the afternoon the Helen Hardy Band entertained. A good R n’ B band the covers we know and flowed through the auditorium as Saturday afternoon drew to a close. Saturday night. Kenney Jones & The Jones Gang, may not be classic rock but this was a band that delighted the crowds with songs from his vast back catalogue. Kenney Jones, the drummer who was the heart of three of the great bands The Small Faces, Faces and The Who. The crowd sung along with delight to Itchycoo Park and more. Leafhound, a rock band were well received with Luke Rayner’s guitar sounding superb, the most underrated of the weekend. (Bluesdoodles spent most of the time in Reds and Jaks this just didn’t rock our boots)
Last day of the festival with a feeling of the night after the day before. The last of 2016 Introducing Stage winners the Rainbreakers started things off. This is a band that never rains on your parade but brings a ray of sunshine Once again proving what a great launch pad the introducing stage is as they also stepped into Centre stage limelight delivering a storming set. The testimony to this was the queue for the merch as people wanted to get their hands on the latest E.P. Rise Up. This was R n’ B with attitude, full of tasty riffs and delicious licks in the eclectic selection of numbers. A class act with loads of potential to be a name on everyone’s lips. Popa Chubby Band closed out the afternoon with his own brand of Blues and R n’ B with his trademarked lead breaks, held together by a solid rhythm section. The crowd really warmed to him many hearing him for the first time. Definitely class blues BUT definitely not Rock as Poppa described his music as Working Class Blues. The night was not about rock but there were three acts that delighted the audiences. Kicking off the double celebration of the Rocking Blues was Laurence Jones with his new line-up. He built the energy, excited the packed house, the guitar was sweet. Laurence full of confidence gained from years of touring and playing live across Europe and the UK. The set was one-hundred percent Laurence with ribbons and bells as he showcased his latest album Take Me High. That is definitely what he did he took us high in to a dazzling blue encrusted music with the edge of rock With Joanne Shaw Taylor up next we were going to be in for a Wild ride. Reflecting her current album, the set was full of deep blues riffs and licks that curled around the audience with a sensuous and stylish flow. The interaction between Joanne and her bassist Luigi Casanova adds energy a visual focal point. Then she breaks away and soars into her renowned guitar solos that hit the spot where musical memories are made. Tonight, was the best I had heard her vocals the balance was perfect so voice and guitar were in balanced harmony. Closing out the festival on Centre Stage was Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel where many re-lived memories and reminded many of the sound track of their youth.
The weekend selection at Jaks was vast, full of delights and festival gems plus the fun of Saturday afternoon Jam. Ranging from the gently harmonious blues from Fran McGillivray to the dynamic sounds of blues with a punk attitude and sassy energy from the Husky Tones as this duo caught your attention. With a new album out soon this is a band we will be hearing lots of as they ask Who Will I Turn To Now? Closing the night as the other stages fell silent we danced into the early hours with The Revolutionaires led by the charismatic and energetic Ed Stephenson. Saturday afternoon is all about the Jam which two young men, Mikey Maclennan and Steve Liddle ran with style as unfortunately Jam stalwart Gary Boner from Roadhouse was unwell following a recent operation. Everyone wishes Gary a speedy recovery and a hearty welcome back to Skegness 2018. Saturday evening was a night of magic live-music. With two of the acts for many the bands of the weekend. Firstly Catfish who played a blinding set. Deep emotional blues full of verve and style as Matthew Long with his voice and guitar dominated the stage capturing the audience so that no-one was tempted away. Catfish’s rendition of Make It Rain was stunning and the emotions were charged and there were tears of joy as the passions of the audience and the band connected. Their new album, out 28th January, Broken Man will be a hit of 2017 there is definitely nothing broken about this band. How do you follow that with Dom Pipkin & The Ikos and some New Orleans infused music. Closing the night and welcoming in Sunday were LaVendore Rogue. A band that is like marmite with the supporters outweighing those who cannot connect to their interpretation of the blues. Mixing up the set with old Hokie Joint numbers and tracks from the debut album, Light Up With they definitely shone music into our soul tonight. Sunday evening, without Roadhouse they pulled a blinder by filling the gap with Ash Wilson. The anticipation was high, many had seen him play dual guitar in the Sean Webster Band. On stage he was joined by Bob Fridzema and Roger Inniss who played on his debut album, Broken Machine. Joining him on drums tonight was Wayne Proctor sitting in for his brother Phil Wilson who was otherwise engaged playing drums with Laurence Jones on Centre Stage. The set was mature, accomplished a quality performance of R n’B from everyone on stage. We heard covers like My Babe done the Ash way. Ash’s vocals are strong at times sounding like molasses with the bass drum the heartbeat like cotton popping in a sun-drenched field as he Holding Hands was sung. The Revelator a Jesse Davey number picked up the tempo. There was a pure synergy between these top drawer blues musicians a delight to behold and listen to. Be delighted to see him on the Blues main stage next year. Following this Will Johns & Friends, with Mikey Maclennan once again coming to the rescue as stand-in drummer. He met Will and the band a few minutes before stepping on Jaks stage with them to play a festival set. What a brilliant job he did. Very entertaining with witty repartee, brilliant guitar with a fantastic tone. What a high quality set of blues. The festival had one more act as the clocked turned into Monday, Jaks was packed as everyone squeezed a few more musical memories out of The Great Rock & Blues Festival 2017. Kris Barras Band, who delivered blues rock with power and a force to be reckoned with. Another live act that delivers every time building on the studio sound heard in their current album Lucky 13. Blues Matters once again delivered music that will hold many memories and hats off to the DJ Clive Rawlings who each year acts as the glue that held the sessions together.
Reds this year was coloured with Blues of every hue and shade. With Friday and Saturday dedicated to firstly to the harmonica and then to Alligator Records. Opening the festival for Reds was A Harmonica Explosion, a night where this German folk instrument was re-shaped in tone and playing by Southern States Blues musicians to be forever connected. Blues and harmonica are a perfect pairing. Opening the night was Giles Robson Band, a very entertaining set engaging the audience who were delighted to participate when asked. The music was an explosion of blues harp as we stepped on board the steam train and followed Giles on a ride full of tonal twists and turns of the blues-harp. Later on in the evening he was joined by three more renowned harp-players Magic Dick, who for some reason was not on top form, James Harman beset with frustrating technical issues so his harp was silent for far too long and the cream of the night a musician on fire Billy Branch. When they all played together at the end of the evening we were treated to a harp firework display. The acoustic set from Martin Harley opening on Saturday afternoon was a melodic delight as he explored the tonal ranges of his lap Weissenborn guitar. The covers took us deep into the Delta full of acoustic twists and turns gently kick-starting a harmonious Saturday in Reds turned Blue. The tempo then changed and Reds was packed as loyal fans of Nine Below Zero were once again caressed by the band that knows how to deliver. The only disappointment was this set was on in the afternoon many felt it suited an evening slot. The music drew you in the blues was delivered and everyone left with a deep sigh of contentment. The evening was a celebration of all things Alligator. With a first for Skeggie a Q&A session with Bruce Iglauer President and founder of Alligator records. Lots of interesting questions and we all gained an insight into how a blues label works. Three blinding sets unfurled showing the diversity of electric blues. Marcia Ball got the Alligator Party rocking turning Reds into a Roadhouse for this Blues Spectacular. Proper Chicago blues played by a wonderful group of musicians who with a smile opened up the joy of the blues and entertained. Marcia Ball sung like an angel accompanying herself on the piano with the musicians that pulled together to showcase the sound they just love to share with everyone who listens. Blues is heavenly when played this well. The harmonious and interesting combination of drum shuffles, sax, keys and the power of vocal lyrics was infectious with the guitar pulling the show together. Wow! How do you follow that? Easy when you have the depth of Alligator artists to choose from. Next up blues with a difference a trio, Moreland and Arbuckle. All eyes are focused on Moreland with his cigar box guitar and Arbuckle’s, harp and vocals. A high octane band playing Roots music that rocks you to your core. Electrifying raw delta infused music that gets the adrenalin pumping feet tapping and you get a warm feel good glow as the music surges through your veins. Closing tonight we headed deep into Southside Chicago for authentic urban blues with Toronzo Cannon. Having learnt his craft in the competitive and demanding Windy city club scene it takes a special blues magic to rise above the crowd. Toronzo has that with style and a flourish as he melds smooth vocals and stinging guitar chords. With a mix of his own numbers with strong lyrics and a couple of covers; what a dynamic end to an evening that enveloped you in Chicago Blues and so much more.
Sunday at Reds was a mixed package for me opening with Lil Jimmy Reed featuring Bob Hall on Keys this was the perfect blues smoothie for early Sunday afternoon. Followed by Paul Jones and Dave Kelly as a duet Sunday was a smooth affair. The evening was a mix David Knopfler on acoustic guitar, disappointed, The Blues Band as ever delivers British blues with style and aplomb. Closing the night is Jamie Williams and The Roots Collective; this is blues infused with English Folk and roots music. Closing the festival on Reds they delivered a stylish set that didn’t for me shout out the blues. Not a celebration but a party we all enjoyed.
There were many highlights of every Blue hue the strongest stages over the whole festival weekend were Jaks and the Introducing Stage. The night celebrating Alligator Records was a combination of brilliant blues drenched music. The three young bands who won The Introducing Stage Sugarman Sam & The Voodoo Men, Texas Flood and The Rainbreakers, all added a shine to the festival. Memories of 2017 will be many and all tinged in blue rather than rock. The acts that you should run to see again are Catfish, LaVendore Rogue, Ash Wilson, the winners of the Intro Stage and Elles Bailey. Joanne Shaw Taylor in this form is a force to be reckoned with, Marcia Ball , Moreland & Arbuckle, Toronzo Cannon and the harp supremacy that is Giles Robson.
King King turned up the Blues thermostat Live in Cardiff
Friday 13th bringing joy to The Globe Cardiff as Blues Rock drenches the packed audience with a medley of chords, lyrics and emotions. Special guest Broken Witt Rebels and the mighty King King turned up the Blues thermostat, the venue and the music was scorching.
Sold Out, music to the ears of bands, venues and promoters alike, as Cardiff gives a loud and enthusiastic shout out for the Blues Rock power that is King King with their special guests Broken Witt Rebels.
Opening the night, getting Friday 13th of to a rocking good start are the young band from Birmingham receiving lots of attention for all the right reasons. Having seen them play a festival set at Planet Rockstock 2016, my expectations were very high. So do not let Bluesdoodles down! Did they No they did NOT… why the set was full of rock and roll sparkle the glints of razor sharp sapphire blue fused into the rocking foundation of the Rebels sound.
TheyOpened with Low, from the critically acclaimed EP Georgia Pine. This is a number that raises the temperature as the band took us on a musical journey with tracks from this and previous release Howlin. The musical journey was a road of interest full of hefty licks, and gentler curves. The vocals of Danny Core are immense as he introduces a new number into the mix Bang Bang. finishing with Guns, this is a band that is blazing a trail that you want to get on board. Many bands have potential, many promise so much. There is no argument that Broken Witt Rebels are a tight unit. The timing is impeccable, the warmth with which they thank the crowd is heartfelt. The stagecraft is mature and they have the hunger to rise to their promised destiny. The quartet collectively making a sound that entertains are James Tranter, Luke Davis, James Dudley and Danny Core. The band’s exciting melding of styles, smooth and raw, smoky and intense this is music refusing to be bent into a genre just to raise your pulse. Now it is down to Broken Witt Rebels; it is in their hands they have the energy, talent and drive to make it all the way.
There was an unplanned extended break due to technical gremlins. Well, it was Friday 13th, but thanks to the unsung heroes of a gig the sound man and King King’s roadie the troublesome lead was dispatched and the show was ready to start. Everyone in a packed Globe ready, waiting and eager to hear King King, and the voice of Alan Nimmo following the operation last year.
Opening the night with Lose Control, the opening track of the Live album we play when the band are not in town. The set list captured the essence that is King King. The d combination of Wayne Proctor on Drums and Lindsay Coulson completing the rhythm section and to the left of Alan – Bob Fridzema, with is Hammond C and Piano. In Alan’s own words as King King kick start of 2017 with their first show of the year “this is going to be some gig!”. The crowd of fans hung onto every word and note sung, and those who were hearing the band for the first time live were enthralled. His voice is back, full of emotional cadences and tone every word he sang with pure delight the smile said it all. Rush Hour, from Reaching For The Light, was stunning!! The addition of a 300 strong choir sending a tingle down the spine as Alan conducted hearing the lyrics being sung to him. A magical moment, only being there in that moment really explains the feeling, Being in the company of people loving the music, celebrating the moment. Live music is made up of thousands of these special moments. Bob Fidzema’s dancing hands brings Long History of Love to life, then More Than I Can Take, from Standing in The Shadows took the roof of the place. Then two songs played with a dedication. The first was recorded for Facebook live and was for Alan’s Mum who has not been well. Get Well soon shouted The Globe, hello Alan’s mum roared the capacity crowd and then You Stopped The Rain, what a song the emotional power hits everyone who listens to the number in a different way but always deeply personal. followed by Take A Look, not often played live and a favourite of Merch Man and Driver Mike. Alan as ever connects with the important things in a band’s journey. With the new remodelled voice giving Alan confidence and a vigour that spread across the room his excitement at King King playing on a stage again was infectious. Crazy, yes, the room went crazy with this perennial favourite. Then far too soon it was time for an encore Let Love In and another opportunity for Choir Globe to get involved.
What a night of Live Music. Stupendous. As King King turned up the Blues thermostat Live in Cardiff helped by Broken Witt Rebels.
Cardiff! Your New Year resolution should include checking out the acts playing at venues across town. Go see bands that you may not have heard of but once you have you will want to again and again. Start your musical voyage of discovery at The Globe, Albany Road on Friday 13th. Considered unlucky by some, but for everyone who walks into the venue will leave feeling lucky. Why? You will have heard music that will rock your socks off. Full of melodies, guitar licks and vocals that leave ear-worms of delight. Friday 13th sees King King and Broken Witt Rebels hit the town with rock full of soul and blues licks and a large dollop of charisma and star shine.
This is not the first or last trip to Cardiff for King King, they always delight with the swirl of Alan Nimmo’s kilt amidst the cascade of Hammond keys and a rhythm section that lays down the beat. King King’s first-ever live album “King King – Live“ was recently voted #1 atBlues Rock Review’s “ Top 5 Best Live Albums of 2016” polls. The live album triumph follows King King’s recent win of five awards at the British Blues Awards including Best Male Vocal (Alan Nimmo), Best BassPlayer (Lindsay Coulson), Best Song (Rush Hour), Best Album (Reaching for the Light) and Best Songwriter. October 2016 saw the release of King King’s first live album “King King Live” which hit the No.1 spot in Amazon’s Best Sellers Blues Chart. This is music you want to be part of the listening experience.
First time in Cardiff, the young exuberant band from the Midlands Broken Witt Rebels are building on the success of debut EP Georgia Pine with the two singles gaining airplay on Planet Rock. This Feeling said “One of the best new live bands in the country, it’s a matter of time before they explode onto the big stages.” Winning the Best Rock Act at the first unsigned Music Awards putting the quartet on the must see live road map of 2017.
Get your tickets and do not miss out on the chance to buy vinyl copies of music you will want to take home with you.
St David’s Hall was infused with the essence of Rock Music with Black Stone Cherry Bringing Kentucky To Cardiff tonight opening their anticipated tour An Evening With Black Stone Cherry. This is a new venture for BSC as they opened for themselves as Chris Robertson announced and he admittedly they were nervous acoustic with people sitting down was a first! The second half would be typical electric heavy rock mayhem was promised after the break.
For everyone in the audience who had experienced Black Stone Cherry in stadia, it all felt rather strange, stepping on a road not travelled with BSC, up close, stripped down and personal. The stage represented a front porch with bright lights like fireflies caught in a jar decorating the stage to make it look pretty for us. The songs were magnificent demonstrating that underneath the amps and electric are numbers that have the power, intensity working so well as acoustic numbers. Demonstrating the deep roots of rock in folk, bluegrass mountain music and country this is music that evokes Kentucky every bit as much as bluegrass, horses and Kentucky Whiskey. The opening set of forty-five minutes held the rock audience’s attention as they opened with In Our Dreams from their latest album Kentucky and later in the set Rambler and perfect for the acoustic setting; we may be a million miles from Kentucky but tonight Cardiff was an extension of the bluegrass state. The poignant singing of Things My Father Said, completed what was never finished earlier in the year when in Cardiff when the emotion of the number was too much for Chris. With help from the Cardiff audience who never ever need any encouragement to participate and they were happy to join in, the atmosphere was electric throughout the acoustic set as they sung “Big city lights don’t shine for me no more” we knew the lights of the city were shining on BSC tonight. Closing with All I’m Dreaming Of we sat back and thought what a great way to open let’s bring on the main course BSC loud, bright and electric.
With the stage reset and the lights changed Chris Robertson, vocalist strutted on stage complete with a blue PRS guitar, which Chris was delighted with. Chris joined by power drummer John Fred Young, Dancing, leaping guitarist Ben Wells and bassist as solid as the rock they play Jon Lawhon. The four who are Black Stone Cherry needed no introduction as the lights lit up the stage the roar of delight went up and everyone stood to enjoy the Kentucky rock they have come to hear.
The audience throughout were ready to party have fun and a great time listening to music that blasted away any cobwebs lurking in the far high corners of St David’s Hall. Up first in the electric set to cheers and the audience standing Devil Queen blasted away the chill of the acoustic the auditorium was hot. Rock that puts fire in your belly and good vibrations in your ears and a feel good factor this is what Saturday nights are made for. The set list toured their albums with Kentucky’s Soul Machine raising the heat we were now cooking on ten surely we would get to eleven before the night was over. With a live airing for the first time since 2009 from Folklore and Superstitions Please Come In, we didn’t need to be asked twice. We were being absorbed deep into BSC deep, dark lyric driven rock. The band were full of energy with Ben striding from one side of the stage to the other in a few steps his leaping acrobatics added to the fire as the rhythm guitar pulled the sound together. How many drumsticks were broken battered or bruised as Fred Young powered through the numbers? I lost count, some lucky people caught them as they were hurled into the audience. The bass line of Killing Floor adds to the tension as we hit the dark groove of Killing Floor snarling with menace. Two favourites had the audience high and ecstatic as White Trash Millionaire and Me and Mary Jane creeping round the backdoor like a groundhog were aired across St David’s Hall. as the light show flashed and danced reflecting off the walls as strobing to the driving beat of BSC rock. A true if lonely statement Cheaper To Drink Alone full of Southern heat and verve as Chris’s vocals curled around the lyrics, spitting them out, live there were George Thoroughgood riffs and licks in the intro this is what makes live music so special you have to be at the gig to get the full drama, quips and that up close and personal feel. The drum solo with Fred taking control of the stage gave the rest of the band a breather before the last three songs. The Guitar changed now in Chris hands was a red electric lent to him by Luke Phillips of Newbridge band Everyday Heroes; 2016 Steelhouse band winners who opened the Steelhouse Festival. Fantastic to hear the latest single, from Kentucky album Shake My Cage, played live the riffs are just huge as the reverberated around the auditorium. With Blame It On The Boom Boom giving Cardiff another chance to raise their voice, finishing off the second half of the chorus despite the band stopping, Chris apologised live “…we get it wrong sometimes! Let’s do a chorus again if you will join in”. All too soon, it was the last or twenty-fourth Black Stone Cherry number of the night Lonely Train. But there was more, the scale of eleven was now definitely reached with a tribute to Lemmy at the end with a BSC version of Ace of Spades! No one went home lonely filled with the party vibe of An Evening With Black Stone Cherry.
Chris Robertson thanked the Cardiff audience for enjoying the music and how delighted they were to be starting a U.K. tour once again in the Welsh Capital. As they left the stage to Queen’s We Are The Champions encouraging Cardiff to raise their voice once more and shaking hands with as many of the audience as possible. We knew that Black Stone Cherry Bringing Kentucky To Cardiff was a reality, great fun and superb Rock n’ Roll.
SET LIST ACOUSTIC
In Our Dreams (Kentucky)
High & Hell Water (Black Stone Cherry)
Like I Roll (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Things My Father Said (Folklore & Superstition)
Stay (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Big City Lights (Black Stone Cherry)
All I’m Dreaming Of (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Devil’s Queen (Folklore & Superstition)
Soul Machine (Kentucky)
Soul Creek (Folklore & Superstition)
Please Come In (Folklore & Superstition)
Darkest Secret (Kentucky)
Killing Floor (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
White Trash Millionaire (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Cheaper To Drink Alone (Kentucky)
Me and Mary Jane (Magic Mountain)
In My Blood (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Blind Man (Folklore & Superstition)
Change (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Shakin’ My Cage (Kentucky)
Blame It On The Boom Boom (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Walking, Talking Singing Beth Hart Wins Colston Hall Hearts
Colston Hall, sold out always has a fizzing vibe add into to that the expectation of Beth Hart it was before the event like a champagne popping festival.
Before the main act, Canadian Colin James opened the evening joined on stage by band member Chris Cordell. A stunning, crowd-pleasing authentic acoustic blues duo, finger picking, slide showing the dexterity of the fingers as both guitar tones complimented each other. Colin James vocals were strong shaping the lyrics and backing from Chris providing deep tones gave a depth of interest. With the latest album Blue Highway selling well we were treated to Sam Cook and Otis Rush. Colin’s resonator had a great sound that resonated with the audience who were enjoying the music with all the anticipation of Beth bubbling around the auditorium.
The Colston Hall audience were delighted to welcome Beth Hart back to Bristol. As all eyes were on the stage as the band walked on and the opening bars of More Than You’ll Ever filled the hall the vocals of Beth were heard from the back of the auditorium. Dressed in black with stunning red high heels she walked down the stairs stopping to hug, shake hands and smile without missing a beat. Beth took time as she delighted fans by being up close and personal and then she stepped up onto the stage and her band and Beth were reunited. What an entrance, spellbinding, personal and was a hint of how the rest of the evening was going to be.
There is a story behind every number which Beth shared with candour, openness and a few tears with the audience. The hard reality of the lyrics behind the songs were laid bare for the audience to pick over. We saw Beth with microphone, behind the piano and playing guitar, the set list was altered and Colston heard songs not planned but which felt right to Beth tonight. Yes, there were numbers from her current album Fire On the Floor including Coca-Cola and Fat Man. The two songs are so very different one looking back to days on the beach as the teenager and the other, Fat Man, a critic of decadence , and greed a high energy rockier number. But tonight was not about promoting the latest it was about singing the songs that Beth felt she wanted to share with this audience.
Celebrating her home and its quirky uniqueness Beth, accompanied by her acoustic guitar, serenaded The Ugliest House On The Block. It was stage presence and more tonight, Beth engaged with the packed house on so many levels through her songs and sitting staring and looking directly at you. Beth made it feel as she was singing to each of us individually in a small venue, not a packed concert hall.
There were so many spine-tingling tear jerking moments but, A Good Day To Cry was immense in its emotional delivery tonight. We wanted the music to go on but as ever the curfew was winning as Beth asked her husband if she could play one more for him. Thinking about it discarding some songs she decided tonight as the night to sing from Better Than Home, We’re Still Living In The City. Beth and her piano made this such an intimate gig in a large theatre, what talent, what personality as someone shouted, “We love you, Beth!”
The encore again was a change from the script with her wonderful emotive version of I’d Rather Go Blind and then singing A Capella version of the song, because her Manager prefers it that way, As long As I have A Song, tonight was special. Thank you, Beth, as you sang you did Pour a Dream tonight.
Tonight we were enchanted under the spell of Beth’s aural seduction her vocals purred, growled and beseeched as she filled the hall with warmth, sadness and hope.
Beth Hart tonight delivered more than a song, more than a show it was open, heart-rending connecting to us on an individual level. Tonight was music therapy for everyone.
Rebecca Downes is not a foxy blues singer she has the speed and cunning of a leopard. Anyone who has seen Rebecca live will have two burning memories, the imitation leopard skin coat and the fact that her vocals are not an imitation they are her own and totally real. He voice has a great range and turn of tone she stuns you with her dexterity as depending on the number she makes the lyrics, cajoling, tempestuous, husky or smooth. Who is Rebecca Downes some may ask, well the Birmingham based singer and her band have been gaining attention wherever they play. This is the very reason she has been voted Best Emerging Artist and Best Female Vocalist in the British Blues Awards 2016. They are a sensation.
Rebecca is not defined by the blues but shaped by them with a soulful voice and a stage presence that shines out as wide as her dazzling smile. Rebecca is a singer who loves the stage and the audience loves her back as the music flows and Be Live captures the essence of a Downes live show. Her voice dances around the lyrics and the musical backdrop her band skillfully delivers.
The live music is a perfect set to demonstrate the depth of Rebecca’s catalogue it is a statement that this is a blues singer who understands the power of the lyric that she shapes with her tongue. Be Live is definitely a statement of intent to deliver music that we want to hear live again and again.
The album is mix of covers and self-penned tracks. Opening with Never Gonna Learn, from her studio album Believe there is one thing for certain buy the album and hear her live to learn what a hothouse of blues music this girl is. This is blues with energy and intensity that makes for sweet hearing. This live performance shows that Rebecca is learning and her skills are being honed having opened for King King and Norman Beaker. With another of her numbers Fever In the Night, the light jazz feel and the feeling of seduction Peggy Lee’s Fever is immediate comparison for all the right reasons. There is a raw animal vivacity about her singing throughout the thirteen tracks.
We all like something funky with an intro of drums guitar and keys on My Sweetness as the band are introduced. They are more than a foundation they are the glittering rock that allows Rebecca to soar and play with the lyrics as she wraps them around her tongue and delivers them with sweetness. The band tonight are Steve Birkett (Rhythm guitar, slide guitar & vocals d guitar and co-writer); Rick Benton (keys); Dan Clark (bass); Lloyd Daker (drums) and Rik Sandford (lea). This is a track that has funky vibe with some hot Southern licks.
A cover that stands out on the album is Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind; often covered and Rebecca has re-shaped the classic to suit her delivery. Steve Birkett’s lead break builds with intensity and hurt, maintaining the tension as he fades Rebecca introduces him and the keys cool the emotions before she picks up the song again gentle with hurt and despair.
We have a gentler tempo with Sailing On A Pool Of Tears, the blues guitar has the tempo that counters the voice that is full of emotional hurt, the feeling of despairing loss captured within this heartfelt song.
Closing the album and another friendly comment that warns the audience to Rebecca as she says We couldn’t do this without you. Live music needs an appreciative audience as she closes out the night with Beatles classic, With A Little Bit Of Help With My Friends. There is no doubt that this album, touring Rebecca will be destined to make many more friends through her music in 2017.
Twenty-Five Years Touring Ian Siegal Performs Tonight
Ian Siegal 2wenty5ive Years touring reaching a Pinnacle tonight at The Convent near Stroud. Ian Siegal has been on the road for Twenty Five years, the format may change, solo, trio or the current four-piece band he delivers music that defies capturing in a box it flies with integrity, style enthralling the audience.
Ian Siegal tonight was on fire he was full of Siegal magic full of charismatic energy and the evil twisting of words fell from his lips like pure gold as blues melted into country and reform as Rock n Roll. The guitar of choice tonight was a Gibson. Opening the night was an old favourite guitar, his old Harmony as he opened with The Skinny the lead from Joel Fisk was a fabulous introduction to this young guitarist who for this tour is stepping into the boots of Dusty Ciggar a difficult slot to fill. Tonight Joel more than stepped up to the mark fitting in and shaping his guitar to complement Ian’s guitar work and vocals. The rhythm section Dutch duo of bassist Danny Van’t Hoff and drummer Raphael Schwiddessen; who are the platform that lets Ian fly away with the songs that tonight he is playing all written or co-written. Celebrating twenty-five years tonight is all about the frontman Ian Siegal and he is enjoying every moment as we listen once again to new and old favourites.
The tunes came thick and fast as Better Than Myself, became I Am The Train an award-winning number that takes you on a journey with Siegal in total control of the music and the band whose timing punctuated the tone, shape and pace of the train journey. The collective power and intensity for an audience who is totally immersed in the music, the intensity deepened with every song and tonight’s version of Mortal Coil was simply immense.
The set was the most emotionally poignant set that I have ever witnessed, this was Ian exploring his own music full of Rock n Roll pizzazz that makes him entertaining live music that rolls with energetic tensions as the clever lyrics are spat out, and smoothed over. He is amusing, witty and his perspective on the world is cuttingly sharp. The guitar weeps on Mortal Coil, the shuffle is blues plus so much more he is described by many as the best of British Blues, but for me, he is a musician that plays bloody fine music. Every number was electric, Brandy Balloon saw another Joel special lead break, and the dueling of guitars on Butter Side Up was beautiful.
In true Ian Siegal live style we were taken off-piste as Hard Pressed morphed into a celebration of Prince’s Sign Of The Times flowing into The Revelator where John The Baptist became the Backdoor Man. This was as ever clever works so fine with the immaculate timing that keeps the shape of the original number whilst exploring the other numbers. The encore was demanded and a solo version of The Fear ensued, a beautifully crafted number with lyrics that connects deep within your soul written with Kris Kristoffenson in mind and delivered by Ian with hints of country and the vocal depths of Johnny Cash. Closing with Falling On Down, the band ensured there was only one reaction not falling down with delight but standing up, the standing ovation was a first at The Convent and not the last for Ian Siegal on this tour.
With live music timing and stage presence creates the mood of the music turning live music into something very special and tonight every ingredient went into the mixing bowl and a superb night was created, one we will remember and talk about the night we heard Ian Siegal and his band at the Convent.
From his lead breaks, rhythm guitar, Ian Siegal 2wenty5ive Years touring reaching a Pinnacle tonight. Ian, was definitely on top form tonight, and it doesn’t come any better than this. The review of the night can be captured in a single word Brilliant!!!
The Three CD Boxed Set celebrating Ian Siegal’s 2wnety5ive Years on the road available HERE
Opening with We Belong tonight the fans were delighted in a packed Tramshed tonight as UFO set off in cracking form following the opening rock from Russia with Red’s Call. The audience wanted lots of UFO classics it’s a Wednesday night and we all want to Rock out with the tunes that revitalize and remind us of our youth. UFO delivered that with a set list that toured through their Back Catalogue. Spanning the years from Phenomenon in the early seventies through to the latest A Conspiracy of Stars released last year.
The line-up of musicians may have changed but the core trio of vocalist Phil Mogg, drummer, Andy Parker with keys and guitar, Paul Raymond ensure that the heavy rock remains a constant, lead guitarist Vinnie Moore and bassist Rob De Luca are UFO 2016. Phil was full of witty comments that the Cardiff crowd responded to with chants of Moggy Moggy Moggy! This was old school banter and hit the mark with the audience he can do this as he still can sing and pull the crowds deep into the heavy depths of the UFO sound. As the evening warmed so did Phil’s vocals as they got stronger as the set progressed with the keys adding that extra dimension with cascading chords through the tracks.
Tonight, was about the band everyone was here to enjoy rock live and UFO delivered with song after song the set list was an exploration of the UFO sound. For many tonight’s performances of Run Boy Run and Messiah Of Love was the first opportunity to hear tracks from the new album and they fitted in fine, heavier than the sounds of the eighties, reflecting 21st Century rock. The rendition of Venus tonight was superb followed by exciting mounting songs, Only You Can Rock Me, Burn Your House Down and Cherry. Tonight Makin’ Moves was once again heard live in Cardiff having been given its first airing October 1980 at Sophia Gardens and many here tonight will remember that evening. Lights were certainly veering off tonight, the music was shining through and the choruses were sung with vigour and pure pleasure.
Triplet Encore that had the Tramshed cheering with excitement and pure joy, as Doctor, Doctor was followed by two numbers from 1975 album Force It, Shoot Shoot and closing with Mother Mary.
UFO, landed in Cardiff not with aliens but Heavy rock that has the riffs and chorus lines that we recognize and it is was a fiery performance as we came home to live music that spans the decades and so many memories of good times shared with UFO.
Bluesdoodles gives a big shout out and thanks to Mike Evans for his stunning photographs.
Setlist – Tramshed A Conspiracy of Stars With UFO
We Belong to the Night – Mechanix
Ain’t No Baby – Obsession
Run Boy Run – A Conspiracy of Stars
Lights Out – Lights Out
Venus – Walk on Water
Only You Can Rock Me – Obsession
Burn Your House Down – Seven Deadly
Cherry – Obsession
Love To Love – Lights Out
Too Hot to Handle – Lights Out
Messiah of Love – A Conspiracy of Stars
Makin’ Moves – The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent
Rock Bottom – Phenomenon
Doctor Doctor – Phenomenon
Shoot Shoot – Force It
Mother Mary – Force It