Bestriding The Stage
By Andy Fawthrop
Seems like an absolute bloody age since the last run-out for the Long Street Blues Club, but here we were back on the old stomping ground again. So good to be back and see some familiar faces.
What a shame to have to choose between LSBC and the Southgate (who had Concrete Prairie playing at the same time) but that’s perhaps just a reflection of D-Town’s vibrant live music scene at the moment. In fact, it was at one of The Gate’s recent Jon Amor Sunday residences that I first ran into Mr. Atlas. His performance with Jon that afternoon was the very thing that inspired me to buy a ticket for this gig. Hey, ho.
First up in the support slot was the returning local favourite Ben Borrill. Ben’s been working hard recently, plying his trade in some of our local pubs, and tonight he was rewarded with a larger more attentive audience than he might usually get in the pub. He’s a singer/ songwriter who’s not afraid of hard work. Here he seemed to struggle over his first couple of numbers, but then hit his stride with some great covers. Numbers from Tom Petty, Chris Isaak, The Killers, Radiohead, Wheatus and Ronan Keating were delivered with increasing confidence. Personally I wish someone would finally put Mr. Brightside out of its misery (mainly by just not playing it), but that’s just my personal taste.
Then on to the main fare of the evening – two sets from the returning Brummie Thomas Atlas. He was back with a great young band (Andre Masine on keyboards, Jack Bowles on drums, and Sam Rogers on saxophone). Thomas was on lead guitar, of course, and also handled all of the vocals. Right from the off Thomas’s sparkling guitar work set the scene with some wonderful funky stuff, with the band filling in some nice textures. There was no flash, no histrionics, just some solid down-to-earth hard work from a band that was tight on the set passages, but equally comfortable loosening up for the jazzier solos.
Thomas himself was clearly very happy to be there. Apart from repeatedly telling us that he was really enjoying playing for us (they all say that, don’t they?), his face was the proof of the pudding, constantly lit up by one long beaming smile.
There was plenty of original material, leavened with occasional covers/ reinterpretations. The two that stood out for me were Bob Marley’s Stir It Up, and The Stones’ Miss You. The guitar work was faultless, often reminding me of Clapton on the more flamboyant pieces and Robin Trower on some of the more languid solos.
And, of course, in one of the worst-kept secrets of the night, Jon Amor was not only in the room, but also up on stage, jamming and repaying the favour from The Southgate gig a couple of months back.
All in all a cracking gig, and a return to form for LSBC after a long lay-off.
Future Long Street Blues Club gigs: (but more to be announced/ confirmed next month – watch social media!)
Saturday 15th April 2023 Billy Walton Band
Saturday 6th May 2023 Kyla Brox Band
Saturday 27th May 2023 Gerry Jablonski Band
Saturday 10th June 2023 Eric Bell Band
Friday 13th October 2023 Mike Zito & Albert Castiglia band
Saturday 28th October 2023 Susan Santo