Arlington Arts Centre, Live Review 13th April 2019, Newbury Weekly Times

"This is a band of exceptional quality, fronted by the stellar vocals of Zoe Schwarz and you really shouldn't miss the opportunity to enjoy them."

When a band has been nominated in two categories of the UK Blues Awards 2018 (female blues vocalist of the year and blues album of the year) and Paul Jos of BBC Radio 2 comments "terrific musicians, all four of them", you can expect something special.

Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion do not disappoint, they live up to and exceed expectations.  Drummer Paul Robinson worked with Nina Simone for 19 years while keyboardist Pete Whittaker toured with the Wonder Stuff and guitarist Rob Koral has played on well over 30 albums, with a wide range of musicians.

Add the massive vocal range and expressive stylings of Zoe Schwarz to the mix and you have an excellent live experience. 

Swirling Hammond organ and some great guitar work combined with some superb arrangement to give a jazz edge to many of the tracks, with the result that the band has a truly distinctive sound.

Since 2012 they have recorded fi e studio albums and two live CDs, so the majority of the setlist tonight was made up of self-penned songs.  Noteworthy exceptions being Nina Simone's 'Blues For Mama' and ' I Put A Spell On You', the Screaming Jay Hawkins track.

Having been brought up on classical music and attending a convent school, Zoe Schwarz explained that when an uncle gave her a Billie Holiday tape it hanged her world.   I particularly enjoyed 'Lucifer Is Blue', which included some amazing drumming, 'Angel Of Mercy', Shout and the epic closing song 'I Believe In You'.

This was the Arlington Arts debut for Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion, which may explain the less than spectacular audience turnout, but I hope they will be back and that they will attract the numbers they so richly deserve. 

This is a band of exceptional quality, fronted by the stellar vocals of Zoe Schwarz and you really shouldn't miss the opportunity to enjoy them.

A great show.

 

  • Words by: Brian Harrington

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