Westival is a great music and comedy festival held inside a community centre in Aldershot, Hampshire. The building’s interior, with three performance rooms, is turfed for the occasion with real grass to generate a festival atmosphere.
Closing Westival on the Sunday night was local boy made good Big Boy Bloater. Originally an Aldershot boy he still lives within a few miles of the town. On gruff blues vocals and stinging guitar, Big Boy Bloater was admirably backed by the powerful rhythm section of Matt Cowley, drums and Steven Oates, bass.
Kicking of with Devils and Angels Bloater takes it all the way down and up again, bringing the crowd with him. A natural performer, his eyes twinkle when he plays, living the blues.
Songs about drinking abound, typical blues fare. What isn’t typical is a song about a serial killer “This is one for all you serial killers out there, I’m glad you managed to get the night off.”
Banging My Head Against The Wall is harder and gritty. Robot Girlfriend amusing. Pills, the title track of the latest album, is like being run over by a steam train.
A Storming Saturday Night Desperation Shuffle “about an over 40’s disco” finished the main set. It Came Outta The Swampcrowned a triumphant performance, with outgoing festival organiser Barney Jeavons on stage and hoisted amid an appreciative crowd.
Sitting somewhere between other British blues acts Dr Feelgood and The Count Bishops, Big Boy Bloater adds what he terms swamp blues. He is arguably today’s finest UK exponent of rhythm and blues.
Words and Live Photo by Chaz Brooks