REVIEW – Ian Siegel Unplugged @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Friday 8th November 2019

Friday Night Blues

Andy Fawthrop


I sometimes think Ian Hopkins is just trying to confuse me. Long Street Blues is on a Saturday Night, right? Well, usually, but this week it was on a Friday. So for the second time in seven days I found myself walking up the hill to the Con Club.

Another surprise was that we are usually treated to some 4-star blues featuring a full band. Not tonight though. Ian Siegel, who usually works in a full band format, is currently undertaking a tour to promote his latest album “All The Rage”, playing the songs in a stripped-back, one-man-and-his-guitar format. He’s also thoughtfully separately recorded a 4-track EP with some of those same songs in this current unplugged format.

So down to it. No support act. Just a packed room, and one man and his guitar. And we were treated to two sets of superb, modern acoustic blues and more. Many of the songs were Ian’s own compositions, or those of his friends, or collaborations. Only occasionally was a rock/ blues/ gospel standard thrown in, such as the Delta classic “You’ve Gotta Move”. His guitar style is strong, loud and gutsy, his vocals ranging from loud and expressive, through to slow, cool, gravelly, whispered, half-talked.

He does a good line in inter-song chat too, interacting very positively with the audience with wry humour. We learned many things – he hates Southampton (Scumhampton) and supports Liverpool (I like him already), he advocates positive action against those who’d like to talk loudly through his set, he’s a big fan of Jon Amor and his latest album (hurray!), and he has an interesting theory about Bob Dylan (the guy really can sing – he just chooses not to – he’s messing with us).

At several points in the gig, Ian stopped to say that playing his “big” material this stripped-back way genuinely made him nervous, and wasn’t sure that it would always work. But he needn’t have worried – it all worked superbly and came across well. The audience absolutely loved it. The encore was well-deserved and featured two covers – the traditional gospel/ hymn “I’ll Fly Away”, and Tom Waits’ “The House Where Nobody Lives”.

Another cracking gig, and another great advertisement for live music.

Upcoming gigs at Long Street Blues Club are:

• Saturday 30th Nov Gerry Jablonski Band
• Saturday 21st December John Coughlan’s Quo (support from George Wilding)
• Saturday 28th December Pink Torpedoes

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