Category Archives: Live reviews

Joe Bonamassa: Don’t fly away

Joe Bonamassa | Royal Albert Hall | 20 April 2017

(Photo credit: Laurence Harvey)

Joe Bonamassa has no trouble selling out two successive nights at Royal Albert Hall. He could certainly afford giant video screens to show his flying fingers in extreme closeup. Or, at the very least, his name in lights.

But this man on the precipice of 40 is not that kind of performer. A class act who’s clearly paid attention to the finest detail, from the subtly monogrammed music stands to the backing singers’ perfectly synchronised sashaying, he’s intentionally created an environment that doesn’t distract from why everybody’s really here: the music.

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Gregory Alan Isakov: Let’s put all these words away

Gregory Alan Isakov | Islington Assembly Hall | 3 April 2017

(Photo credit: facebook.com/gregoryalanisakov)

The last time Gregory Alan Isakov played London, all he had was a guitar, harmonica, two microphones, and 30 minutes. Five months later, he’s back with a full band. But, although the addition of guitar, banjo, fiddle, drums, and bass makes for a more powerful, visceral experience, the overall effect is far more intimate.

And that’s not just because the singer-songwriter is playing a smaller venue packed with his own fans, he actively goes out of his way to connect with the audience, encouraging them to shout out requests, sharing anecdotes that give insight into his creative process, and clearly having the time of his life with four – sometimes five – friends up on that stage. “This is seriously the best Monday night I’ve ever had”, he grins at one point, and you can’t help but believe him.

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Erja Lyytinen: Slowly burning

Erja Lyytinen | 100 Club | 11 April 2017

(Photo credit: Edyta Krzesak www.edytakphotography.com)

Erja Lyytinen is a phenomenal guitarist. That’s a given. Not just technically brilliant – capable of playing with speed and precision, able to imbue every solo with unique character and tone – she has an edge over many other virtuosos: the ability to cram so much tangible emotion into six strings.  

So when she delivers the cascading, intensifying instrumental break of the magnificent ‘Black Ocean’, it’s as if she’s actually reliving the same dark feelings that went into lyrics like “I need some peace/ Please hear my call”. The jaw-dropping how-did-she-do-that slide solo of swampy Koko Taylor reimagination ‘I’m A Woman’ brims with a lifetime’s worth of admiration for the pioneering singer. And the high-energy performances that propel the nimble ‘Stolen Hearts’ and body-shakin’ ‘Rocking Chair’ overflow with an unbridled happiness.

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Sinkane: We’re all gonna be alright

Sinkane | The Dome | 29 March 2017

“Everything is fine/ We’re all gonna be alright,” sings Ahmed Gallab on the slinky ‘U’Huh’. And, for 80 glorious minutes, nobody inside The Dome can disagree.

Sunny enough to banish even the memory of Theresa May triggering article 50 this morning, Sinkane’s music turns out to be the perfect antidote to the bleakness of the world outside.

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Hurray For The Riff Raff: To all who came before

Hurray For The Riff Raff | The Dome | 22 March 2017

As Hurray For The Riff Raff launch into a feisty take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s anti-war outburst ‘Fortunate Son’, Alynda Segarra declares: “Keep on marching, stay strong, and protect each other.”

It’s the perfect summation of the past 80 minutes: a revitalising set of protest songs that run the gamut from the personal to the political. Yet, even as the impassioned singer addresses social and economic issues humanised by way of the immigrant experience, she and the audience can’t help but swing, her charged lyrics paired with music that’s just as powerful.

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Moon Duo: Creepin’ into Heaven

Moon Duo | Heaven | 17 March 2017

The effect is hypnotic. Even from the back of Heaven, standing next to someone who can’t stop burping pepperoni, your view obscured by what appears to be the AGM of London’s Tallest Men Society, it’s impossible not to be mesmerised by the sound and light coming from the other end of the hangar-sized venue.

Performing in silhouette against a backdrop of ever-changing kaleidoscopic technicolor psychedelic visuals, guitarist Ripley Johnson, keyboard player Sanae Yamada, and live drummer John Jeffrey provide a fully immersive audio-visual experience. A trip, without the acid.

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Sari Schorr: A force of nature

Sari Schorr & The Engine Room | The Borderline | 20 March 2017

(Photo credit: Eric Duvet)

“Everybody is so clued into each other,” says Sari Schorr of her backing band, the perfectly named The Engine Room. “That allows us to be very dynamic and creative on stage and the show doesn’t get boring – because we never know what’s going to happen,” she laughs.

So when they run into a few technical hitches, breaking in the revamped Borderline’s brand new sound and lighting system, they just keep on rockin’ like there’s no tomorrow. The show must go on, as they say in the classics. And, quite frankly, this show is one of the classics.

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