Review: The Blues Band – Birkenhead – 17 Nov

Posted on: Monday, Nov 19, 2007

Pacific Road Arts Centre, Birkenhead: 17/11/07

After nearly 29 years together The Blues Band bring to the stage a wealth of blues experience, fronted by the vocals and harmonica of Paul Jones, with Dave Kelly (guitars and vocals), Tom McGuinness (guitars and vocals), Gary Fletcher (bass and vocals) and Rob Townsend (drums) – together they provided a most entertaining show as part of the 19th International Guitar Festival of Great Britain to a sold-out Pacific Road.

The band are all fine players, with Paul Jones and Dave Kelly particularly strong vocalists as well, with Tom McGuinness and Gary Fletcher taking the spotlight on a few tunes throughout the evening, which kicked off with a couple of old stompers in the shape of Charley Patton’s “Moon Going Down” and Sleepy John Estes’ “Drop Down Mama”.

Tom McGuinness recalled a sweet tale about Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup staying with him and despite providing Elvis Presley with a couple of huge hits had never made any money, before his version of “That’s Alright Mama”.

A couple of other first set highlights were the bawdy “Old Jim Canan’s”, from the pen of Robert Wilkins, with a great Dave Kelly vocal, and Paul Jones tribute to the legendary “Sonny Boy Williamson”, with the song of the same name, and with some lovely harmonica work.

The second set opened with a trip way back to the early days of the band with the spirited “Going Home” – rousing slide work from Dave Kelly, and a trip into The Beatles songbook for “You Can’t Do That”. A couple of blues classics followed, with the timeless “Sitting On Top Of The World” and the often-covered “Before You Accuse Me”.

One of the best numbers of the night was the excellent “Fine Brown Frame”, a swinging blues from the recently departed singer Nellie Lutcher – and with a stirring vocal from Paul Jones; followed by another top slide performance from Dave Kelly on “Let’s Talk It Over”.

The evening ended with Roy Head’s “Treat Her Right”, with the band returning for a brace of well-deserve encores that featured Dave Kelly’s “I Am The Blues” and “So Bad” – to send the audience home well satisfied after the two hour show.

An amusing aside was Paul Jones taking a good five minutes to plug the band’s new box set – come on Paul, you’ve got a radio show to do that! Nonetheless The Blues Band always provide top entertainment, and are true torch bearers of the blues, particularly from way back!


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