Tonight underneath Temple Meads at The Tunnels in Bristol the atmosphere was full of electric anticipation as we waited for Aynsley and his band to lift the roof of the arches and the music to flow through our collective veins in the South-West. Aynsley’s fan base is loyal and growing reflecting the power of his live act; the sparkling studio and live albums and the award-winning skills of Aynsley’s rock-blues guitar playing.
Tonight the band was on fire and the line-up behind him was two changes from the norm for this one-off gig after a tour of Germany with the enigmatic Jools Grudgings on keys; bassist Christian Dezelu and completing the rhythm section regular Boneto “Bunny” Dryden on drums. There was a party feel and the band were going to entertain with a set list that took us on a mini-tour of past albums and his current studio sound on Home. The live sound is honed unsurprisingly with the non-stop touring around the UK and Europe; the music though always has a freshness as if you are hearing the music for the first time no wonder the crowds gathered to hear him play in Bristol once again.
Opening with Big Sleep we know we are listening to a guitarist steeped in the blues with a rocking tone providing a dramatic hard edge to his power chords; the solo was entrancing pulling the crowds deep into his musical soul. If you haven’t heard his latest album Home you were treated to the title track and four more demonstrating the deep array of textures, tonal variations and the words that hold the melodies together, full of relevance for today’s audiences. Broke connects as the words unfold “The state we’re in, Hard to know, what we’re heading for….” we all could relate to the lyrics delivered with feeling. The first set left people wanting more as he finished with a bluesy number Sugar with Jools piano intro adding a sparkle to a great number a sweet taste of Aynsley’s music to close the first part of the gig. Whilst we all enjoyed a break and opportunity to catch up with fellow friends and fans including the dedicated Steve Pierce who is known to travel to Poland to hear the Lister magic and intoxicating guitar playing. Once again the music was strung out across the tunnels the notes finding their way into the nooks and crevices and melding with the fabric of this great gigging venue.
The second set started where we had musically left off guitar driven music of the highest quality, with vocals that match so that we have that perfect combination of strong songs sung while the guitar hits the sweet spot on your musical antennae. Hitting the right spot with another track from Home, Hyde 2612 gets the second set underway, then one of my favourites from Equilibrium, What’s It All About, we know what it is all about a night of live music with friend’s and guitars that sing from every string makes for a perfect night out. Tonight there was a sadness many had just read about the untimely death of Brian Burns, a dedicated lover of live music; whose all too early death on the way from a Dr Feelgood gig the night before was a raw hurt and Aynsley’s dedication of Free in his memory was appreciated by all those who knew Brian who loved his blues, and always at the front the heart and soul of many an outing.
Tonight there was no argument that Aynsley was playing at the top of his game with a fluidity of sound that was delivered by the whole band, you had to know this was only the second time they had played together every riff, melody line and inter-action between the instruments was flawless. We had classics from Freddie King with Tore Down, guitar solos and a duel between guitar and keys it was a draw with both hitting all the right notes. Another Aynsley classic Early Morning Dew was played drawing down memories of other Aynsley gigs and the pleasure they bring. Ending the night with a thundering delivery of Possession we wanted more as the last notes faded away and we did yes it had to be Purple Rain, this version of Prince’s classic number always delights the crowds, and tonight was no different.
Tonight they gained some new fans and ensured that we will be back to hear more of Aynsley’s magic next time he rolls into town.