Review: Phil Bates at Liverpool Marina – 04 Feb 2011

Posted on: Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011

Phil Bates 03

A full diary with The Orchestra (the new name for ELO Part 2) meant that it was more than four years since Phil Bates graced the stage at Liverpool Marina. It was no surprise therefore that there was an encouragingly large turnout for his much-anticipated return.

The evening’s programme was opened with the splendid “House Of Blues”, followed by a Keb’ Mo’-influenced version of Robert Johnson’s “Kind-hearted Woman Blues”. A slow ballad from the ELO Part 2 repertoire preceded a cracking, jazzy delivery of “Can’t Buy Me Love” and Robert Cray’s “Old Love” before the excellent original composition, “Love Affair With The Blues”. The highly entertaining first set was concluded with Chuck Berry’s “Thirteen Question Method” and a wonderfully inventive rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “The Last time”.

The second set began with another dip into the ELO songbook in the shape of “Evil Woman” and the original “Walking Back Towards The Light” before a marvellous, finger-picked instrumental version of George Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun”. In contrast to the frantic instrumental, “Broken Fingers”, which was introduced as Celtic punk with a heart-felt tribute to the artistry of the inspirational Adrian Legg, there were terrific versions of “Waterloo Sunset” and “She’s A Woman”. The philosophical whimsy of “The End Of My Rope”, another fine original number, led back to The Stones and a slide guitar-accompanied delivery of “All Over Now”, which incorporated a clever diversion through “Don’t Bring Me Down”.

The music of Keb’ Mo’ was revisited with a brilliant rendition of “Perpetual Blues Machine” while “Midnight Blues” acknowledged the influence of T-Bone Walker. The final number of the warmly-appreciated second set was a fusion of another Keb’ Mo’ composition and a high speed delivery of Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” before Charlie Rich’s “Feel Like Going Home” provided an appropriately
bluesy encore.

Among the many high class acoustic blues performances on the circuit, Phil Bates offers a unique compilation of authentic blues numbers, excellent original compositions and wonderfully inventive versions of popular songs that are not normally associated with the blues genre. Furthermore, his fabulous vocals and his highly accomplished guitar playing ensure that his eclectic choice of songs is immaculately delivered. Another four-year gap is absolutely out of the question.

Lionel Ross

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