Back in the heady and virus free days of 2018, I said the following about a hard-rocking Belgian blues band called The BluesBones about their Chasing Shadows album: “This is clearly a band that deserves much wider recognition; their compositional skills are extremely high and each is a master of their instruments. This is a highly recommended release for lovers of traditional blues played with 21st Century sensibilities and could teach a thing or two to some more established artists”.
Fast forward to the end of 2020 and they released a live album (recorded in 2019 but delayed by you know what) with the descriptive title of Live On Stage. This is their third live release and fifth overall…do they still live up to my comments? Hell, yes! A dozen tracks give a value for money seventy-six minutes of rock, blues and a hint of soul with genuine improvisation (the sublime closer is an extended jam that oozes class) and a tightness that, were it not for the cheering and banter, you’d think was it was recorded in a studio.
The concert starts with the always strong vocals and the twin attack of Hammond and guitar…sometimes in harmony as well as superb solos. Find My Way Out is blues rock of the highest order. Listen also for the excellent bass and drum backing that is always spot on. Next up, incongruously, is The End; puts some funk into the blues with the bass, then Hammond, then guitar linking to build tension for the vocals to join in…the highlight is a guitar solo that is a pure delight.
Demon Blues draws on New Orleans blues as Nico asks if we’re “ready for some voodoo”. Edwin puts the tone and feel into a nifty solo that captures the atmosphere effortlessly. Going Down (not that one) is next and is a slide driven swampy favourite of mine from the last album, and is treated admirably live…especially on the shiver-inducing slide solo. Better Life is an irresistible shuffle that is short and very sweet. Now prepare to be funked and jammed:
The Witchdoctor has infectious rhythms and a Rhodes solo of quality matched by a glittering guitar solo of such inventiveness. Betrayal is slow blues that takes a familiar pattern and freshens it with sterling performances from all five of this excellent band. Followed by Sealed Souls, the feel is maintained as the slow and sensitive blues again take hold. By the time we get to the solo, I am reminded of When A Blind Man Cries as once again Hammond and guitar reign supreme. Romance For Rent moves us back to blues rock with what may seem a bit plain until the spirit of Jon Lord seems to seep out of that Hammond during the solo.
Cruisin’ is blues with rock ’n’ roll and the pace suits the “cruisin’ with my baby down the road” storyline. The rhythm is again familiar (think Baby Please Don’t Go) but these guys tear it a new one and the solos are brilliant yet again…beware if listening with the kiddies, there is one f-word. Psycho Mind is funky blues rock, they do so well and more great solos.
Then we come to the closing epic…Whiskey drinking Woman plays on numerous blues tropes but brilliantly and it always seems way shorter no matter how many times I listen to it…the Hammond swirls beautifully and the rousing guitar solo is a treat.
To sum up, I was right! So I say again: “a band that deserves much wider recognition; their compositional skills are extremely high and each is a master of their instruments. This is a highly recommended release for lovers of traditional blues played with 21st Century sensibilities and could teach a thing or two to some more established artists”.
Now all you need to do is buy a copy.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – A Wonderful atmospheric and quality live album that never disappoints.
1. Find My Way Out
2. The End
3. Demon Blues
4. Going Down
5. Better Life
6. The Witchdoctor
8. Sealed Souls
9. Romance For rent
11. Psycho Mind
12. Whiskey Drinking Woman
Nico De Cock: vocals
Edwin Risbourg: Hammond
Stef Paglia: guitar
Geert Boeckx: bass
Jens Roelandt: drums
(The iTunes run on track delivered class and classic blues of a different kind with Bo Diddley and his great Down Home Special.)