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NEW AGE BLUES
Jazz Cafe, London NW1, 17 December 2009
On a night
full of high expectation and fuelled by the presence of both compère David
‘Kid' Jensen and legendary blues producer Mike Vernon, this triple bill of
young rock/blues talent with a combined age of barely 61 - less than one
Rolling Stone – lived up to the claims of the portentous New Age Blues
both Oli Brown and Joanne Shaw Taylor offered sparking confirmation of
their already fast maturing skills, it was the impossibly young Virgil
& the Accelerators who suggested there is more to come from the
burgeoning UK production line of new rock/blues talent.
30 minutes with which to fill the graveyard slot, Virgil & the
Accelerators shot out of the traps the traps like the proverbial greyhound
chasing the rabbit. The band is incredibly tight and Virgil brings both an
impressive tone and rare intensity to his playing, best exemplified by his
self penned opener ‘What Am I To Do' and a well chosen cover of Lonnie
Lack's smoking ‘If You Have To Know'.
they retired to a good hand leaving Joanne Shaw Taylor to overcome
some initial technical problems which led her to ditch her Telecaster and
borrow Virgil's guitar.
the plane from America she quickly demonstrated why she has made such a
big impression this year, launching into the instrumental ‘Shake ‘n'
Brake' and a funky and hugely impressive slow burner ‘Going Home'.
measure she added an earthy blues ‘Time Has Come' which was full of
dynamics and fleeting notes. And while she sometimes relied on a growl
instead of a vibrato, as on the riff driven ‘Watch 'Em Burn', she saved
her best for last bringing real presence to another climactic blues
‘Blackest Day' and finished with the Hoax influenced ‘Bones'.
undoubtedly on the up escalator. And so to Oli Brown. What marks tonight's
triumvirate out as different from the rest is that each performer brought
a new dimension to the bill.
certainly the case with Oli Brown who infused an impressive set
with a mix of steamy shuffles, a funky countenance and some intuitive band
Oli's real strength lies in his ability to communicate with his audience.
He has the persona, the looks, the style and youth on his side to bring
something new to the well tested rock/blues template.
on newer material like ‘Makes Me Wonder' and a personal relationship blues
‘Love's Gone Cold', on which he brought real emotive expression and added
some impressive linear guitar lines. He also added some deep note clusters
on the tough debut album title track ‘Open Road' and like a true pro
brought the set to a climactic finale.
subsequent two well deserved encores demonstrated his ability as an
interpreter of song, as he transformed the Blackstreet/Dr Dre rap number
‘No Diggity' into a muscular funk outing and he finally took a bow with a
reworking of the a cappella ‘Black Betty', via the Ram Jam band into the
Oli Brown mould.
outset Kid Jensen had announced that Mike Vernon had been coaxed out of
retirement to produce Oli's new album. On the evidence of tonight's show
you can see why.
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