The Blues Band at The Assembly Rooms, Tamworth, UK – 19th June 2014

Posted by Bianca on Thursday Jun 19, 2014 Under Blues

Gig Review by Cat Onisko with Gig Photography by Drew Kirkland

The Blues Band

As the majority of the country nervously clutched their pints in anticipation of England’s somewhat crucial game against Uruguay, I was on my way to the Grade II listed Tamworth Assembly Rooms for an evening with The Blues Band.

Blues is something that I’ve not really listened to in the past, but as a wise man once said, ‘variety is the spice of life’, so off I went with an open mind to enjoy an evening of live music by five accomplished musicians in their own right, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Blues BandThe Blues Band

Somewhat predictably, the 300 seat capacity venue was only half full, which is certainly not a fair reflection of the huge fan base these guys have won over in their 35 year career.

Formed in 1979, and with 20 albums to their name as well as several solo albums to boot, The Blues Band have a pretty impressive résumé, most notably perhaps being their 2 night stint at Rockpalast in Germany in 1980 where it was broadcast live across Europe.

The Blues BandThe Blues Band

There was no support act tonight, and at 8pm sharp, vocalist and harpist Paul Jones, lead/slide guitarist Dave Kelly, guitarist Tom McGuinness, drummer Rob Townsend, and bassist Gary Fletcher filed on stage with cheers and applause from the audience.

‘Good evening music lovers… Uruguay have just scored.’ Paul Jones announced with a cheeky grin. ‘Only joking.’ as the audience exhaled a collective sigh of relief.

Kicking off in the same way as they did at Rockpalast, Jones and co launched into their revved up version of Delta blues legend Robert Johnson’s ‘Come on In’, followed by ‘Talk to Me’ and ‘Death Letter’, all performed with such enthusiasm and fervour, it was easy to see how these guys are still packing out venues across Europe.

The Blues BandThe Blues Band

The remainder of the first set was a fine blend of solo material from Jones, McGuinness and Kelly, each taking a minute to promote their respective solo albums before proving their worth as respected individual musicians, followed by a beautiful rendition of lugubrious American folk song ‘How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live’.

The stand out song in the first set for me was surprisingly one of bass player Gary Fletchers two solo songs. ‘Spin Doctor’ had a much more contemporary feel and it’s evident this guy has a dark sense of humour, with the memorable line ‘I cover asses so you can’t see the cracks’, something that wouldn’t be out place in ‘The Thick of It’.

The audience really came alive for the bands last song before the end of the first set; their only entrance into the UK singles chart ‘Maggie’s Farm’. Paul’s expressive body language and animated facial expressions gave his performance an almost theatrical feel; it’s nice to see this ex-Broadway star still putting his acting skills to good use.

The Blues Band

To make the end of the first set even more memorable, Paul approached the front of the stage and began a call and response, encouraging the audience to mimic him. ‘I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more’ he trilled, alternating his pitch each time and joking that he couldn’t hear us, but the audience livened up and sang right back at him, creating an infectious buzz of excitement as the first set came to a close, and after a short break we were back in our seats and eager for more.

The second half brought an upturn in energy and tempo, with Dave Kelly stepping up to the mic to sing Bo Diddley’s ‘Before You Accuse Me’, before Paul Jones returned to lead a fantastic rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s gospel influenced hit ‘People Get Ready’, Paul again showing off his huge vocal range, easily spanning several octaves. Then came ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’, a simple structured folk-blues song leaving ample room for the band to really make it their own; Kelly, McGuinness and Jones each getting a separate round of applause during the song for their exquisite individual solos.

The Blues Band

Following the same trend as the first half, solo material as well as some covers seemed to be the order of the day; Gary Fletcher performing the second of his solo songs ‘Upside My Head’, swapping his bass for a ukulele while the remaining band members assisted in this gentle swaying country blues number, bar Tom McGuinness who briefly disappeared off stage.
Considering these guys are in their 60’s and 70’s now, there is no sign of them slowing down, they didn’t appear rusty or fatigued, and if anything were bigger and better in the second half of their set; with Paul really pushing his own vocals to the limit in terms of power and range and Tom providing a good old dollop of old-fashioned charm; never have I seen anyone perform two 50 minute sets with what seemed like a permanent smile on his face.

‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ was the final song before the encore, and the audience happily sung along to the chorus, feet tapping and heads nodding along before being bowled over by McGuiness’s final guitar solo played behind his back; a fine example of his extraordinary talent.

The Blues BandThe Blues Band

After chants of ‘More!’ from the audience, the 5-piece returned back on stage to a rapturous applause, performing the Muddy Waters’ acoustic blues song ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’ and finally ending with upbeat soul record ‘Treat Her Right’ before taking a collective bow to a standing ovation from the audience.

Regardless of who was taking charge of the vocals, this veteran British 5-piece are flawless together, each bringing their own individuality along to every song while still thoroughly enjoying performing together. I walked into the venue tonight completely indifferent to the blues, and undoubtedly left as The Blues Band’s newest fan.

The Blues BandThe Blues Band

You can check out UK tour dates for The Blues Band here.

One Response to “The Blues Band at The Assembly Rooms, Tamworth, UK – 19th June 2014”

  1. The Blues Band @ Tamworth Assembly Rooms – 19/06/2014 | The Letter C Says:

    […] can view my original review for Gig Junkies and view more photos here Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like Loading… blues concert gig gig review gigjunkies […]

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