Review: Rev Doc and The Congregation at The Harbourside Club, Liverpool – 04 Oct 2007

Posted on: Sunday, Oct 14, 2007

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Since the first gig at the Harbourside Club almost two years ago, organisers John and Lorraine Welsh have been trying to book Rev Doc and The Congregation. Finding mutually convenient dates has been very difficult. When one eventually emerged, therefore, it was quickly confirmed, despite its being only a week after the previous gig. It will come as no surprise that the wait and the perseverance were fully vindicated by the band’s performance.

It was good-time, Chicago-style blues at its best from the opening number to the encore some three hours later. The Congregation warmed the stage with an upbeat instrumental before the Doc made his appearance. He immediately settled into his laid-back persona on “Blackbird Blues”, which was embellished by the first of many brilliant guitar solos from the superb Al Brown. “Runnin’ Down The Road” and the fast-moving “Seen Your Baby” completed a trio of numbers from the band’s At Your Service album. The funky “Poor Boy” was underpinned by some splendid work from the band’s excellent rhythm section of Davie B on drums and Alan Thompson on bass guitar. Then, after Little Walter’s “Leaving This Morning” and SBWII’s “Help Me” had had the full treatment, The Congregation disbanded while the Doc ended the first set with a tremendous version of “Parchman Farm”.

Among the standard fare of shuffles and slow blues in the second set, diversity was provided by the funky “Snatch It Back And Hold It” and a fabulously tight rendition of “Rockinitis”, on which all four band members excelled. Al Brown delivered yet more magic on “Black Friday Blues”, which saw the Doc playing unamplified harp as he wandered among the audience before a couple more shuffles drifted towards the final number of the set. The band made their second disappearance to leave the Doc to display his instrumental virtuosity with a medley that combined bluesy riffs with gypsy-inspired pyrotechnics. Despite the lateness of the hour, an encore was demanded by the highly appreciative audience and “Boneyard Man” brought a tremendous show to an end. Diaries permitting, a return visit is a certainty.

Lionel Ross

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