Review: Rev Doc and The Congregation at Liverpool Marina – 6th October 2011

Posted on: Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011

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We are blessed with a plethora of excellent blues bands in the UK, which boast an impressive array of talented musicians. However, among that treasured collection there is only a handful that transcend their intrinsic ability to deliver a complete package of entertainment. Rev Doc and the Congregation are significant members of that esoteric category and they have been absent from the frontline for far too long. Refreshed and re-energised, they are now back with a vengeance.

The sublime guitarist Al Brown, backed by the exceptional rhythm section of Davy Boyle on drums and Alan Thompson on bass guitar, opened the proceedings with a lively instrumental before setting the scene with the introduction of a slow blues for the strolling entrance of Rev Doc. A couple of Little Walter numbers provided the vehicle for some terrific harp work from the Doc, followed by the shuffling “The Blues Is Killing Me” and “Running Down The Road”. John Lee Hooker’s “No Shoes” inspired a wonderfully lyrical guitar solo, beautifully underpinned by the rhythm section, and an extended harp solo delivered on walkabout amid the tightly-packed audience. “Don’t You Fool With Me, Baby” was blessed with another dose of Brown magic, while “Must’ve Been The Devil” rocked along to great effect. The Doc then ended the first set with one of his much-loved party pieces, a fabulous rendition of “Parchman Farm”

The slow and moody “Somebody’s Knocking” set the second session in motion in advance of fine versions of a couple of old favourites – “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Matchbox”, the latter enhanced by excellent bass and drum lines as the Doc joined the dancers with impromptu gyrations. Al Brown added a blistering guitar solo to James Cotton’s “Straighten Up, Baby” before the slow blues, “Black Friday Blues”, led into a tremendous delivery of Billy Boy Arnold’s “Rockinitis”. After a calming shuffle, Rev Doc blew everyone away with scintillating virtuosity on a solo performance of “Gypsy Wind”, handing over to Al Brown for an equally enthralling Freddy King instrumental while he got his breath back. The blissful evening was rounded off with “Boneyard Man” and another John Lee Hooker composition by way of an encore. The explosive response from the crowd underlined their delight at the resurrection of Rev Doc and The Congregation. Amen to that.

Lionel Ross

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