On a wet and windy November night in Bristol lovers of the blues knew there was only one destination The Tunnels. With sadness as we friends greeted each other the conversation turned to the closing of The Tunnels another venue that will soon fall silent.
The two sets delivered from Aynsley were a masterclass in control of the guitar and clever interplay between himself and the keys. The band once again delivered blues that oozed class with a mix of Chicago, Texan and British R n’ B. With no set-list the band let the music take them and ourselves off a journey of discovery. With five albums and years of playing live Aynsley has plenty of material to choose from and many loved numbers were inevitably left off the pay list tonight. Tracks from his current album Eyes Wide Open released on his wife’s label Straight Talkin Records reminded us what a great album this is and the songs played live always have that extra dimension.
Into the mix, we heard the range of blues as this award-winning guitarist dexterously molds his guitars, whatever shape and size. This is no monochrome sound it is full of light and shade, ups and downs the tempo alters sometimes moody, slower other times stinging with heat. Closing out the first part of an evening with Aynsley, his guitar and the superb band delivered numbers littered with stupendous guitar lead breaks that linger but never for too long before his vocals are heard again or there is a cat and mouse game with Alan on the keys or Steve on Bass. A Texas blues classic closed out the first set, the venue is now red hot and we are swimming on a tide of blues that hits your soul.
The interval gave everyone a chance to relish in the music they had just heard we wanted more and it wasn’t long before the band returned to the stage and the music began again. His rendition of Stay form his latest album was delivered with a poignancy and reflected out opinion that The Tunnels should stay as a music venue. Followers of Aynsley know that Freddie King is one of his favourite classic blues guitarist and tonight despite a broken string and changing guitar the vibe was never lost for an instant. The keys filled in and the sound rang out. It was once again a perfect showcasing of the skills of a guitarist that delivers every time. His other cover was his live piece de resistance Prince’s Purple Rain. It would not be a Lister gig without this song on the play list. The band then left the stage and The Tunnels was filled by warm applause, without further ado, we heard another number sadly, the last time he will play The Tunnels. Come back to Bristol soon we love to play. Next time bring with you some new songs to surprise us, yes we love the older numbers but hearing something for the first time is always exciting and wakes up the ears.
Bluesdoodles will only be covering a few more gigs at The Tunnels so many happy musical memories a venue suited so many bands across a range of genres. The Tunnels were for many like Aynsley a permanent fixture on their gigging calendar. Where will they play now? There are not many venues of this size in town. I would say this living on the other side of the bridge, with no tolls from mid-December, make a trip across to Pontypridd, The Muni or The Globe Cardiff a warm welcome will be awaiting you.
Aynsley Lister – Guitar & Vocals
Alan Price – Keyboards
Boneto “Bunny” Dryden – Drums
Steve Amadeo – Bass