Review: Theatre of Blues, Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury – 4th February 2012

Posted on: Wednesday, Feb 8, 2012


Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury was the host of the year’s first blues festival on February 4th 2012 and, with it only being a short distance from my home town, I thought it a great excuse to see many of the acts currently on the blues circuit.

Afternoon Session

The first act, Babajack, set foot on the stage just after 1pm but, unfortunately, I was running slightly late so only managed to catch a few of their songs. However, from what I did see and hear, they had great energy and performed a superb rendition of Ledbellys ‘Black Betty’ for their encore.

Next to set foot the stage was the incredibly talented Blues Boy Dan. This young man has a voice that defies belief and an energetic and aggressive guitar style. I have had the opportunity to see him several times and each time he surpasses the last performance. This time was no exception as he played over 45 minutes of material including ‘Black Cat Bone’, ’Stormy Monday’ and ‘Dog House Blues’.

The next act was a band I had only seen once before a few years ago – Northsyde. This blues/funk band really are a great live act with the line up consisting of Jules (guitar) and Lorna Fothergill (vocals) with Ian Maurcio on bass and Hayden Doyle on drums. The band played over an hour of funky blues including tracks of their two studio albums as well as an interesting cover of Phil Collins’s ‘In The Air Tonight’ and their own superb rendition of ‘Whipping Post’.

The MC best described the afternoon headliner as “Having an edge that makes Johnny Rotten look like a wimp”. Dave Arcari stepped onto the stage and delivered a rousing set of acoustic/punk blues including the title track off his latest album, ‘The Devil’s Left Hand’ and the Robert Johnson classic ‘Walking Blues’ .

Evening Session

The evening session commenced after a short break and was opened by the organisers of this great event, Andi Jones (vocals) and Dermot Hall (Drums) and their superb band Rhythm Zoo. The five- piece band is completed by John Sanderson on saxophone, flute and bass clarinet, Carl Smith on guitar and Dave Wilmore on bass. The band played an energetic set including the superb ‘Going Back To Memphis’ and ‘Crazy Kitten Blues’ .

The next band to hit the stage were a band that have been generating a serious buzz after the release of their self-titled debut album The Jon Amor Blues Group. They stepped up and gave a display proving that that the praise they are receiving is well justified as they kicked into a thumping set of tracks off their alum including ‘Angel In A Black Dress’ and ‘Underdogs’. The impressive line-up included Jon Amor on guitar and lead vocals, Dave Doherty on guitar and backing vocals, Chris Doherty on bass guitar and Simon Small on drums.

The final Act that I was able to see was the brilliant Dutch ensemble The Big Pete Blues Band. What I saw from the band was very impressive but unfortunately with the weather setting in I decided to take my leave and head home. In all fairness, the Theatre of Blues was a great event and I truly hope that it becomes an annual feature.

John Taylor
(photo by Ken Peace)



February 8th, 2012 at 22:12
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Great review . . . thanks John! Just to add that Ken and I only saw the first few numbers from Big Joe Louis & His Blues Kings, namely King David (guitar), Little George Sueref (harmonica and vocals) and Peter Greatorex (drums) before we too had to depart for the train . . . they started off in fine form with a cracking “Neckbones”, followed the great “She Was All The World To Me”. Well done to all involved on Saturday, especially Dermot and Andi, all the musicians and fans . . . who had braved some shocking weather . . . and all theatre staff and the sound and lighting guys who did a fine job.