Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017

Sixty seconds into show opener Rose Colored Blues and the famously hard to please Borderline feet were tapping. Quite an achievement for an Americana songsmith faced with a London crowd of semi-interested drinkers with a copy of Time Out in one hand and a pint of Pride in the other, but Andrew Combs cuts through mediocrity. There were certain factors on his side tonight for sure. The sound was as smooth as his Southern drawl. From my location at the bar it sounded like a band which blended together like a fine single malt. Continue reading “Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017”

Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson, Green Note, London, 4th May 2017

The Green Note was proving, and not for the first time, that its stage is just a little bit bijou – even for a duo. If that duo has several guitars, a drum kit and a ragtime washboard then that’s a lot that needs packing into a small space. The plus side to this, and what keeps people coming back time and again, is that the rest of the venue is to scale – meaning that you’re virtually on stage with Hat Fitz and Cara. Intimate isn’t up close and personal enough of an adjective. Continue reading “Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson, Green Note, London, 4th May 2017”

The Blinding Lights, The Battersea Barge, Vauxhall London 5th May 2017

There is a legend among Thames boatmen of a ghost ship, a vessel shrouded in darkness plying the grey river in the night. On board a band plays, guests revel and the music drifts out across the river. The Blinding Lights are not that band but I could understand what they were trying to create here. Continue reading “The Blinding Lights, The Battersea Barge, Vauxhall London 5th May 2017”

Robert Cray, Cadogan Hall, London, 3rd May 2017

It was a dismal, cold night with an ever present threat of rain that brought Robert Cray to London’s plush Cadogan Hall – it’s a converted church, and tonight it was a Temple to the Blues. Cray returned to London with a three piece backing band – the dread-locked and barefoot super-cool bass player Richard Cousins, keyboard maestro Dover “Whitecliffs” Weinberg and the passionate and inventive Terence Clark on drums. And up front, flanked by Matchless Speakers, was of course Robert Cray – belying his age, dressed in his trademark “preppy” style, he looks younger than his 63 years. Continue reading “Robert Cray, Cadogan Hall, London, 3rd May 2017”

Bob Dylan, London Palladium, London 28th April 2017

This was the first of three nights at The London Palladium, and this pretty theatre is by far the smallest venue I’ve ever seen Dylan in with just a 2,2866 capacity: Wembley Arena or The Dome this is not. Which means that even up in the Upper Circle the seats aren’t really that far from the stage – probably equivalent to being a dozen rows back in the stalls. The view of the stage – and hence the view of the band – is just perfect. Even during dimly lit sections it’s possible to pick out Dylan’s facial asides to the band – well, when they aren’t obscured by his wide brimmed hat. Continue reading “Bob Dylan, London Palladium, London 28th April 2017”

Curse of Lono, The Water Rats, London, 20th April 2017

Curse of Lono’s show at The Water Rats was a launch for their anticipated debut album Severed. The venue has a rich history, Marx and Lenin are both reputed to have frequented the place during their respective times in London and Bob Dylan played his first UK show here in 1962. This, coupled with the band sharing their name with a Hunter S Thompson book, led me to wonder whether to expect something unusual, intellectual, dangerous or deranged.  What I got was a bit of each from Curse of Lono, a London based five-piece band consisting of Felix Bechtolsheimer and Neil Findlay both from Felix’s former band Hey Negrita, plus Joe Hazell, Charis Anderson and Dani Ruiz Hernadez. Continue reading “Curse of Lono, The Water Rats, London, 20th April 2017”

BC Camplight, St Pancras Old Church, London. 20th April 2017

The church has a profound effect on some people. For BC Camplight it drove him to greet his audience with a handshake at the south porch as they left. Earlier I wasn’t too sure Camplight was an artist just right for Americana UK but soon my fears were relieved when I spotted a writer from a rival website tapping away on his Samsung in the opposite corner. And then Camplight played Your Cheating Heart, a foot stomping version on the church piano that he used throughout the set. Continue reading “BC Camplight, St Pancras Old Church, London. 20th April 2017”