Review: The Blues Gang at Liverpool Marina – 4 March 2011
Posted on: Friday, Mar 11, 2011
It is a testament to the quality of the locally based Blues Gang that they were booked to play at The Marina, which for the past five years, under the direction of John and Lorraine Welsh, has welcomed only the very best of blues bands and solo artistes from the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia. The appropriateness of their booking was fully endorsed by the very enthusiastic reception they received from the full-house audience.
They opened their account with the bouncy, original composition “It’s Not What It’s All About” and BB King’s “Help The Poor”, with some lovely mellow guitar work from singer/guitarist, Steve Wright. Robert Cray’s “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” and The Boneshakers’ “Water In the Well” led the way to a highlight in the first set, an excellent version of Joe Bonamassa’s “Asking Around For You”, which boasted sublime solos from both Steve Wright and keyboard player, Jonathan Starkey. Buddy Whittington’s upbeat rocker “It Can’t Be Good For Me” was then followed by a terrific rendition of John Mayall’s “Pieces And Parts” before a hard-driven delivery of James Brown’s “Cold Sweat”.
To start the second set, Jonathan Starkey provided a another fine helping of key rippling on the lively “Start It Up”, which was instantly contrasted with the original slow blues, “Taste Of Your Love”, which afforded Wright and Starkey another opportunity to strut their considerable stuff. The performance of Michael McDonald’s funky-edged “Nothing To Nobody” was arguably the highlight of the evening with a cracking guitar solo that went into overdrive.
Slow blues and funk were resumed through John Mayer’s “Gravity” and Robert Cray’s “The Forecast” respectively. A very different but effective version of “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” led the way to the sole instrumental of the evening, a rip-roaring delivery of “Indianola”, Robben Ford’s tribute to BB King. “Talk To Your Daughter” and “Since I Met You, Baby” by way of a heartfelt tribute to the recently departed and much-lamented Gary Moore, brought a fine conclusion to the splendid second set before Joe Bonamassa’s “I Don’t Believe” delivered a great response to a loudly demanded encore.
Jonathan Starkey on keys, Alan Lynch on bass guitar and Roy Martin on drums provided a terrific foundation to supplement the outstanding guitar playing of Steve Wright. The icing on the cake for the Marina regulars is that the guitar maestro is scheduled to appear there again on Thursday, 31st March, as a member of John O’Leary’s Sugarkane.