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NEW GENERATION BLUES 2011 featuring WT FEASTER BAND, VIRGIL & THE
ACCELERATORS, MITCH LADDIE BAND
Boom Boom Club, Sutton, Surrey,
20 May 2011
New Generation Blues 2011 may not have the immediate star quality of its
Oli Brown/Joanne Shaw Taylor & Virgil predecessor, but Mitch Laddie, WT
Feaster and Virgil & The Accelerators made light of any burden of
expectation with contrasting styles, virtuoso playing and the quality of
Remarkably for only the second night of the tour there was clearly a
feeling of camaraderie and bonhomie as evidenced by the generous plugs
for one another's abilities and the swift between set changeovers.
The thrilling climax to the show which saw Feaster whisper mid solo to
his compatriots to engineer an outrageous back to the audience, three
upside down guitars behind the head finale, merely confirmed the jovial
Newcastle's gunslinger Mitch Laddie and his band opened and
proved to be more than a hard working, riff grinding power trio as they
offered unexpected moments of subtle delight.
Mitch explored the nuances of a Texas shuffle on 'Get You Back' and
quickly gripped the crowd with an impressive slow blues 'Here's A
Drink'. He also had the confidence to unveil the newly written and
tightly wrapped 'What Are You Living For' and brought the crowd to
complete silence on a magnificent fusiony 'Mr Johnson' - a song
dedicated to Eric Johnson - that was closer to the West Coast than
Newcastle, but was brilliantly conceived and executed. The band fully
deserved their warm reception.
And so to the 'veterans' of the last NGB tour, Virgil & The
Accelerators; Like Mitch Laddie's band, VATA are barely into their
twenties and bristle with a quiet confidence that is tempered by an
apparent sense of humility leading to a number of thank you and an
honest account of their influences.
And while it is tempting, if not plain lazy to pigeon hole them as SRV
disciples VATA's set thrillingly proved they have so much more to offer.
Whereas the majority of Virgil's contemporaries rely on speed, volume
and the big gesture, Virgil ignores the latter and incorporates the
former into a playing style that is restless but articulate, rocking but
bluesy edged and technically brilliant but delivered with real feel.
Previewing their debut autumn Mystic release 'The Radium', VATA take
from the past to reshape the rock/blues template with a youthful
vibrancy and with an acute awareness of the power of dynamics.
Virgil's deft use of touch, tone, sustain, volume swells, wah wah, and a
tightly focussed intensity is that of someone 20 year his senior. Virgil
& the Accelerators appear to be quick learners and songs like 'Racing
With Life', 'Bad Girl' and the more familiar 'What Am I To Do' spoke
WT Feaster had it all to do but demonstrated that you can't go
far wrong with an immaculate rhythm section and an inherent soulful
feel. This is a band that makes a virtue out of contrast, building up a
succession of grooves and funky runs, with soulful phrasing and earthy
singing. Travis himself is a melting pot of white boy soul and blues
with the emphasis on songs, harmonies and grooves. Tonight it translated
into a stage show that ebbed and flowed with real panache.
WT unravelled his languid but insistent style on the tautly delivered 'Gunshy'
and explored some fine fret board work on the title track of his current
CD 'Wish You Well'. He almost slipped into pop mode on a humorously
introduced homage to casual sex 'Mr Maybe', soared high on a gorgeous
rock ballad 'This Bird Has Flown' and unexpectedly lurched into the
muscular funky territory of the Tower of Power's 'What Is Hip'.
WT Feaster's effortless playing style, understated approach, lingering
melodies and slow ascending solos made for some soulful magic.
The hotly anticipated three guitar jam provided a suitably colourful
climax to a NGB bill that suggests contemporary blues is in the very
best possible hands.