Blues In Britain Magazine, Issue 151, July 2014

Live Review, The Maltings, Farnham, 15th May 2014

Sometimes you see a band and enjoy them the first time but less so on repeated viewings. Quite the opposite with this band which seems to get better each time I see them.  The reason for this must be the quality of the musicians, the inventiveness of the material and the variety of music on offer.

   For example, the opening trio of songs ranged across jazz, blues and rock: first 'Pebble In My Pond' found Zoe in relaxed style as the band provided some jazzy stylings on a number that allowed each of the font-line players to show their abilities in solid solos.  Next came 'Come Home Sweet Baby', Rob providing a muscular core riff on a much bluesier song on which Si Genaro put down his harp to give us a sort of rap-style vocal alongside Zoe.  Third was the title track of the CD 'The Blues Don't Scare Me', a rockier song.

   The band also provides contrasts as Zoe is calm and posed whilst singing wonderfully, guitarist Rob Koral and organist/bass keys Pete Whittaker are quiet, studious players, drummer Paul Robinson plays in a style that looks like a jazz drummer but can drive a rocking tune too, and Si Genaro offers a great deal of visual entertainment as well as some fine harp and backing vocals.  After that initial trio of songs from their most recent album the band offered a brace of older songs in 'Heroes', a dramatic ballad with a fine solo from Rob and 'I'll Do Anything' on which Si's harp (and some nifty dance moves) were a strong feature.  Paul's enthusiasm on the drums was such that he lost his glasses towards the end of the number!  The band felt confident enough to offer two new songs, the first of which, 'Atonement', was stunning with superb vocals and a flowing organ solo.  In contrast 'Let Me Sing The Blues' was very 1960's British R'N'B with echoes of early Stones in Rob's guitar, Georgie Fame in the organ style and even Paul Jones in Manfred Mann days in Si's harp playing.  There had been nine songs in the first set, all original material across a range of styles and the audience was suitably impressed. 

   After the break the band blended in a few covers, to striking effect.  The first was Lowell Fulson's 'Reconsider Baby' recast in a moving ballad treatment to display Zoe's voice brilliantly.  Instrumentally Pete's organ solo was stirring and Rob's extended solo covered every inch of his Ibanez.  After a few more songs from the latest CD another new song was aired - 'Fifteen Days' being another ballad for Zoe to deliver strongly.  To close the set the band offered a storming version of Etta James' 'Something's Gotta Hold On Me' which really moved along at a frenetic pace after a dramatic opening stop-go sequence, Zoe whipping the band into a frenzy like a gospel church in full swing. 

   Calls for an encore resulted in an excellent version of Willie Dixon's 'I Can't Quit You' which really summed up the band's approach.  Vocally Zoe began in late night, smoky jazz club mode but was then waylaid by Rob's guitar riff that reminded those of us of a certain age where we first heard the song (Led Zeppelin!), a memory reinforced by Paul's heavy drumming.  A great evening's entertainment by a group of exceptional musicians. 

 

  • Words by: John Mitchell

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