REVIEW – Climax Blues Band @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 30th October 2021

New Music For Old Favourites

by Andy Fawthrop

Another trip up the hill to the Con Club for the latest pop-up session of Long Street Blues Club, and another great night with a busy and enthusiastic audience.

Support act for the night was Bristol-based Damian Arketta, a new name for me, but I’m always happy to listen to new talent.  Damian played a lot of his own stuff, which I found generally unremarkable, and a rather awkward cover of Heard It Thru’ The Grapevine.  To be honest I found his singing style a little strident and shouty, and there was nothing special in his playing – no subtlety or nuance.  To me the applause sounded polite and supportive, rather than genuinely enthusiastic, but I’m aware that views may differ.  Thinking that I was perhaps being a little harsh on the guy, I asked around a bit and found a somewhat Marmite response – some folks thought he was really good, whilst others (like me) were far less enthusiastic.  Overall, however, you simply can’t like everyone, and I’ll just say that he didn’t really float my boat.

Main act for the night were the legendary Climax Blues Band.  The band were originally formed way back in 1968 by Colin Cooper who led the band with Pete Haycock through great success and recognition through the 1970s and 1980s.  The current 6-piece line-up, however, are a different set of guys now, but that’s not to say they don’t have plenty of track record between them.

George Glover has been on the keyboards since 1981, Lester Hunton on guitar since 1986, and Roy Adams (drums) and Neil Simpson (bass) joined the band on a permanent basis around 1990.  The current line-up was completed by Graham Dee on vocals, and Chris ‘Beebe’ Aldridge on saxes.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well there was much chat from frontman Graham Dee about the journey the band was undertaking in trying to blend the music from their historic roots, the material they’ve inherited, with the songs they’re writing and delivering today, the completely new material.  The band, quite rightly, want to move forward and to develop.  And the result, to my mind, was a complete success.  They delivered two good long sets of blended soulful, boogie-woogie, funky, bluesy music.  There was also a jazzy feel at times, as the musicians took their solos, then blending easily back into the groove.  The band looked and sounded comfortable, giving the music the space to breathe.  Dee’s gravelly vocals, combined with Alridge’s seductive sax notes, added superb subtlety and tone to the driving rhythm section.

Dee was a terrific frontman, looking and sounding the part of the band’s MC, coaxing and encouraging all the musicians in turn as they took flight.  His rapport with the audience was spot-on – confidential, cheeky, honest, down-to-earth.  And, yes, he did mention from time to time that the band had a new album out (Hands Of Time)!  He also led the audience in a great call-and-response treatment of “It’s A Family Affair” – exhausting, but great fun.  It was infectious, it was engaging, it was a great performance

Overall another great night at the club – great value to listen to world-class musicians in our own back yard.  Well done to Ian Hopkins and his team!  And there’s loads more good stuff in the pipeline too – see the listings below.

So – you know what you’ve got to do – get out there and support live music!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 13th November 2021                   Gerry Jablonski Band

Saturday 20th November 2021                   Focus (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 27th November 2021                   Antonio Forcione Quartet

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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