Tag Archives: essex gigs

143. LAURENCE JONES BAND (+THE HEATERS) at THE NEW CRAWDADDY BLUES CLUB, Billericay, Essex. Friday, 20th January, 2017.

LJ at the NCBC (Photo: Karen R)

LJ at the NCBC (Photo: Karen R)

My first visit to the New Crawdaddy Blues Club of 2017 was a good one to be sure: it was the superb Laurence Jones Band, with support from house band, The Heaters. I’ve seen LJ a few times before – as an impressive 21 year-old jamming with his mentor Walter Trout (May 2013. Just before I started my website); then supporting Coco Montoya (May 2014. See my review #14); and supporting – and jamming with – Otis Grand (November 2014. See my review #30), He had noticeably improved in ability and confidence each time. So having not seen him for over two years, my son James and I were wondering if we’d notice any changes this time. We were to see….

But first on stage was the club’s house band, The Heaters. I’ve seen them many times before, but they never fail to impress with songs from their vast repertoire of covers – some of which I hadn’t heard them play before. On this occasion they played such favourites as ‘Hideaway’; ‘I’m Tore Down’; ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘All Your Love’. But the highlight of their set was a fine rendition of Greeny’s ‘Fool No More’ featuring lead guitarist Chris Campbell. Excellent.

And so to the headline act. As the LJB climbed on stage, the first noticeable change was that band were completely different yet again. They now consist of Laurence himself of course on guitar and vocals; Phil Wilson on drums; and making his first appearance with the band, bassist Greg Smith. The LJB also now have a keyboard player in the shape of Bennett Holland. No longer being a three-piece opens up a lot more scope musically. This was the band’s first gig of 2017; and it was certainly a good start to the year.

(Photo: Karen R)

(Photo: Karen R)

The band immediately launched into the title track of the new album Take Me High. It was clear from the off that this new line-up were tight and confident together. A variety of Blues/Blues-based numbers followed, all on the Rock edge of the Blues spectrum, and all in LJ’s inimitable style. These were mainly songs from the last two albums, plus a couple from Temptation including ‘Soul Swamp River’; and a fine electric cover of the old Lead Belly tune ‘Good Morning Blues’ – nice use of wah-wah on this one. A good cover of ‘Cocaine’ was played too, with of course plenty of audience participation.

Highlights of the show for me were: the radio friendly single from the new album, ‘I Will’ (which I thought had a bit of a ‘Watchtower’ vibe about it). Also the Rock’n’Roller ‘Stop Moving The House’; and the obligatory slow number ‘Thunder In The Sky’ (apparently the first song that LJ ever wrote) – to which a couple of lovely ladies in black performed a cheeky dance – and why not? (I should have filmed it!) There was also a tasty bit of duelling between LJ and keys man Bennett on ‘You Wind Me Up’ too. Encore was demanded and delivered in the form of ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’ and ‘My Eyes Get In Me Trouble’.

(Photo: Karen R)

(Photo: Karen R)

Laurence and the boys are a fine young band, and I think they have a great deal more to offer over the coming years. The Blues genre needs young bands like this; and I noticed there were some younger people in the audience too – that can only be a good thing. If you like guitar-based Blues on the Rock edge, then you’ll enjoy their live performance if you haven’t seen them already.

Thanks to impresario Paul Dean and all the hard working volunteers at the NCBC who week in, week out, make this regular Friday night Blues club something special. Big thanks to Karen for the great photos too. PTMQ

 Laurence Jones’ website

New Crawdaddy’s website

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127. STEVE FORWARD’s ‘ONE FLOYD’ SHOW at GPCA, Harlow, Essex. Friday 16th September, 2016.

(Pic: S.Forward)

(Pic: S.Forward)

Being as I was a teenager in the ’70s, I appreciate word-of-mouth recommendations  (that’s how we found out about new music in those days!) I am also always keen to check out something different if possible. So I was interested when at a Steve Hackett gig some while ago, I bumped into Rock aficionado Stuart Walsh; and Jimmy ‘Tee Rets’ (Keys player of Prog-Metal band Kingsreach), who both highly recommended that I should see and hear guitarist Steve Forward‘s ‘One Floyd’ show. But how can one man recreate the sound of the mighty Pink Floyd alone? I got the opportunity to find out at this gig at the GPCA.

The GPCA (Great Parndon Community Association) is on Abercrombie Way, Harlow, Essex. I didn’t know much about it, having never been there before, but it seems a very good venue. It serves the local community in a number of ways – not least as music venue. It has a function room (where the gig was booked) with its own bar; and a separate lounge area.

I arrived quite early, met up with Stuart and got a beer. The music room was moodily lit, and dry-ice atmospherically floated by – appropriate, I thought. I also met and chatted with the knowledgeable Pat Grimwood (Steve’s roadie); and Steve’s wife Karen Warbis, who runs the merch desk. She gave me Steve’s Dark Side tribute album, along with his Time Traveller (a collection of his own instrumental compositions, also highly recommended by Stuart and Jimmy – and to be reviewed by myself soon). Karen is also a singer herself and has recorded a covers album entitled Step Back To The Sixties (which I also intend to review).

My regular readers will be aware of my good friend Rambo who I invited along; and he arrived with his gf Nina, another old friend of mine. He is a great Floyd fan and has seen more than a few tribute acts before – as well as the masters themselves many times. Who better then, to make an appraisal of One Floyd? All set then…

(Pic: S.Forward)

(Pic: S.Forward)

Mr. Forward climbed on stage, Strat in hand, and began with a spell-binding cover of the entire PF classic Dark Side Of The Moon. And as near to authentic as you are likely to get with any other Floyd tribute band – except that Steve does it all alone! I was particularly impressed with his solo on ‘Money’. In fact Rambo’s opinion was that it was ‘…equal or better than a certain Mr Gilmour – and I have seen him on enough occasions to be able to say this’. Enough said!  I do not know who provided the pre-recorded female vocals, but whoever it was did a fine job on ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ for sure. This part of the show ended then to great – and well deserved applause. The show continued then with a superb cover of the haunting ‘Echoes’ from Meddle. before a short break.

Part Two consisted of large chunks of The Wall and Wish You Were Here. Beginning with ‘In The Flesh’, Steve got through all the well-known classics; and was particularly impressive soloing on ‘Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)’; and ‘Comfortably Numb’. He gave us brilliant renditions of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part 1)’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’ too – the latter initiating a sing-along by the audience, of course. Great sax on ‘Shine On’. Lengthy applause from the small but enthusiastic audience showed the appreciation that we had for this remarkable event.

The sheer amount of planning and preparation that Steve has put into his One Floyd show is phenomenal. He plays guitar and sings live, but has pre-recorded everything else, and controls it all from a lap top on stage. At all times he seemed to be firmly in control. There is also the necessary circular video screen above stage, which showed authentic PF videos with up-dated adaptions as necessary. (such as the inclusion of footage of Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un during ‘Brain Damage’!).  Sequenced lighting too – including strobe and lasers – was very impressive; and all pre-planned and honed to perfection. It was impossible to find fault. In fact the only glitch in the proceedings was totally outside Steve’s control, when the venue’s Bandit alarm went off at the beginning of ‘In The Flesh’; necessitating a restart of the number. (Had it gone off at the beginning of ‘Time’ he may well have got away with it for obvious reasons!)

My only (very minor) complaint was that Steve himself was barely visible on stage due to the lighting. Yes I know it was all about the show, but I thought he deserved more prominence; especially when singing and soloing. But all in all this is a brilliant show that deserves far more exposure in my opinion; and I recommend it highly to any Floyd fan. Steve not only does ‘One Floyd’, but also apparently performs a Classic Rock set on occasions, as well as his own instrumental material. PTMQ

 

126. TREV TURLEY AND FRIENDS @ NCBC. ‘Emotion & No Commotion: Live 12th August 2016.

trev-turley-cdThose Blues fans among my readers will no doubt remember my review of the excellent ‘one-off’ gig by bassist Trev Turley and Friends at The New Crawdaddy Blues Club, Billericay Essex, recently (See my review #121). Those who were present at the gig may already know that the show was recorded and is now available on CD (No doubt some have already obtained a copy).

There are eleven tracks on the album, which I think covers all the songs played on the night. The recording has come out far better than I thought it would – actually superb! Its always good to relive a gig that that you actually attended (at one of my favourite venues too), so I was very pleased all round with this CD. Sound quality and mixing are very good indeed. Yve’s vocals and all instruments are very clear; and if you needed a demonstration of the quality, tightness and professionalism of this fine group of musicians, then it is here.

The disc comes in a simple card sleeve with all the relevant info printed on it. It is a limited edition of 100 copies (mine is #56). There are apparently a few left, and these will be available from the second ‘one-off’ gig (if that makes sense!) which is booked for The Murderers in Norwich on 15th December. I probably won’t be there, but I can recommend it highly. PTMQ