Review: Out Of The Blue at The Harbourside

Posted on: Sunday, Dec 10, 2006


After an hiatus of too many years, during which the various band members pursued their individual interests, Kevin Thorpe managed to persuade his erstwhile colleagues to reform Out Of The Blue – albeit, for a brief tour. To effect the inclusion of The Harbourside on that limited itinerary was a considerable coup on the part of John Welsh.

For a number of years, Out Of The Blue was undoubtedly one of the very best blues bands in the country. The original line-up comprised Kevin Thorpe on vocals and guitar, guitarist Eddie Tatton, Jonny Dyke on keyboards, Nigel Lobley on drums and Jeremy Meek on bass guitar. Amazingly, only the last-named was missing from the reconvened ensemble. His place was filled by Simon Sparks, who proved to be an admirable replacement. There was also the added bonus of singer, Wendy Martin, who alternated to great effect between lead and backing vocals.

Most of the material delivered on the evening appears on the band’s two marvellous albums: Blues In A Bottle and Shadowplay. The show opened with “If You Were Gone” before Wendy Martin was introduced to provide backing vocals to “New Woman, New Man” and “The Truth Is Sought By A Liar” – all three numbers off the second album. We were then treated to a terrific delivery of “Blues In A Bottle”, complete with a superb guitar solo from Eddie Tatton to complement Kevin’s gritty vocals. Wendy then took the lead on “Stormy Monday”, as Jonny Dyke, Tatton and Thorpe vied for supremacy on instrumental solos. The first set closed with “Repro Man”, an upbeat boogie.

Incredibly, the second set was even better. Wendy’s tone evoked thoughts of Gloria Estefan as she opened the second set before Kevin Thorpe fronted a splendid performance of “Holy Water”. The version on the Blues In A Bottle CD is entirely acoustic. On this occasion, it received a full-band treatment over Kevin’s acoustic guitar. “This is a Washington, USA, guitar,” he explained, as he adjusted its tuning. “It is in tune with itself all the time – but it is out of tune with everyone else”. Somehow, we all knew what he meant.

There was a terrific, very slow and moody version of “Sitting On Top Of The World”, which was followed by the fast and funky “Unfinished Business”. “Blow By Blow”, featured a fabulous solo by Jonny Dyke on keys; and he and Eddie Tatton again demonstrated their brilliance on the Latin-rhythmed “The Jungle Walk”. Wendy resumed lead vocals for “The Cold Light Of Day” before the programme was concluded with “Two Headed Man”, which afforded impressive cameos from both members of the excellent rhythm section. The whole gig was an absolute delight. Let us hope that there will be a similar, brief reprise next year – and the year after that, and the year after that, and …

Lionel Ross

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