Restrained brilliance and sheer beauty – Mandolin Orange Live in London Review *****

MAY 20, 2019 “We’ve got a bunch of new songs to play you guys” chirped Emily Frantz. On the last date of their European tour Mandolin Orange were at London’s Islington Assembly Hall to promote their beautiful new album Tides Of A Teardrop The Americana duo of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz from North Carolina took to the stage alone and were joined by the other three members of the touring band (guitar/bass/drums) midway through the fourth number. The sound then became fuller, perfectly augmenting the duo’s sensitivity. Opener Mother Dear and several other tracks including The Wolves, Late September and When She’s Feeling Blue came from the new album. Restrained brilliance … Continue reading Restrained brilliance and sheer beauty – Mandolin Orange Live in London Review *****

Michaela Anne – Live in London ***** Live Review

MAY 16, 2019 Super talented US songstress Michaela Anne supported Mandolin Orange on their short European tour and wowed London’s Islington Assembly Hall audience with a classy solo set. Stark and simple lighting perfectly complemented Anne’s quality melodies and lyrics. Opening with I’m Not Her “but how I wish I was” she immediately won over the crowd. On the slower numbers her guitar playing is wonderfully minimal, perfectly accentuating her beautiful voice and stage delivery. All her material is strong, with One Last Song being a little more uptempo and her new album’s title track Bright Lights And The Fame in the same vein. Current Nashville resident Anne is on tour to promote her … Continue reading Michaela Anne – Live in London ***** Live Review

The Dropkick Murphys – Mayhem in London – Live Review ****

The Brixton Academy filled with 5,000 fans for a triumphant return to London for the celebrated veteran American celtic punk rockers. The crowd had been chanting “Let’s Go Murphy’s” nonstop since The Devil Makes Three had finished their lively 45-minute support set and a separate review of that show is on this site here. The curtain went up to reveal a splendid double-decker Celtic-themed stage and the instrumental band members took it in turns to go from one level to the other, giving the audience a great view of proceedings. The dual singers Al Barr and Ken Casey took turns with unbounded energy to encourage the mad mosh pit … Continue reading The Dropkick Murphys – Mayhem in London – Live Review ****

JS Ondara at Bush Hall, London

**** MAY 1, 2019 “Hello, I made a record recently and I‘m going to attempt to play it all to you. Wish me luck.” With confidence, stage presence and a receptive audience JS Ondara didn’t need luck. He would later receive a standing ovation from the Bush Hall faithful after a ninety-minute solo set featuring tracks from his debut album Tales Of America. After winning a Green Card lottery Ondara left Kenya six years ago at the age of 17 to settle in Minnesota, the home state of Bob Dylan whom he had idolised from afar since hearing Knocking On Heaven’s Door as a teenager. In America he bought … Continue reading JS Ondara at Bush Hall, London

The Devil Makes Three – Live in London ****

Live Review APRIL 29, 2019 The Devil Makes Three were four as the trio of Pete Bernhard, Lucia Turino, and Cooper McBean were augmented by a drummer which drove the performance along like a western steam train. In a 45-minute set as support to American celtic punk outfit Dropkick Murphys, the TDM3 played to a capacity 5000 crowd at London’s Brixton O2 Academy. The group soon got the crowd onside and made plenty of new fans. Kicking off with The Bullet from the 2002 eponynous album the group delivered a stonking set of their blend of uptempto, swinging bluegrass pop and soon had audience members at the front dancing … Continue reading The Devil Makes Three – Live in London ****

Eric Bibb – Live at Ronnie Scott’s, London *****

Live Review APRIL 29, 2019 Photo by GigsLens Master blues guitarist and vocalist Eric Bibb delivered a blues masterclass at Ronnie Scott’s during a week-long residency at the famous London club. He was accompanied by Staffan Astner on electric guitar, Neville ‘Level’ Malcolm on electric bass and Nina Simone’s drummer of 21 years Paul Robinson. Bibb thrilled the joint with a variety of blues styles, all played to an exceptionally high standard. Bibb played two sets and opened each by appearing on his own. From the first track, Goin’ Down Slow, it was clear that this was going to be a special night. Power without volume, Bibb commanded the venue and held the … Continue reading Eric Bibb – Live at Ronnie Scott’s, London *****

Matt Andersen – Live in London *****

Canadian bluesman extraordinaire Matt Andersen delivered a virtuoso performance at Camden‘s Dingwalls. In the midst of a European solo tour to promote his latest album Halfway Home By Morning Andersen came on stage to an excellent reception. Not many artists can play a two-hour solo set and leave the crowd baying for more. Quite frankly, Andersen was extraordinary. The charismatic bluesman delighted the audience with masterful playing, impassioned singing and relaxed chat. Technically brilliant, delighting with sophisticated guitar solos, not an easy thing to pull off whilst keeping the rhythm going, and vocals reminiscent of Eric Bibb, Andersen proved that less can be much more. From laid-back … Continue reading Matt Andersen – Live in London *****

Kokomo – Live at the Half Moon Putney – Album Review

MARCH 22, 2019 UK SOUL PIONEERS KOKOMO COME ALIVE AT THEIR SPIRITUAL HOME AT THE HALF MOON IN PUTNEY Sparring partners of the Average White Band in the 70s, Kokomo were brought back together again in 2014 and are now regularly playing live. A superb ten-piece soul act, or in this case eleven, this latest album was recorded live at the Half Moonin Putney where the band regularly takes up residency. Reformed and rejuvenated, Kokomo have new blood in two of their three specialist singers, Charlotte Churchman and Helena May Harrison who join founder vocalist Frank Collins and leader and vocalist/keyboardist Tony “Mr Operator” O’Malley in whipping up a soul storm, backed by seven of the best funk musicians. This offering has established band … Continue reading Kokomo – Live at the Half Moon Putney – Album Review

The Urban Voodoo Machine. Live at The Holroyd, Guildford *****

MARCH 15, 2019 The Urban Voodoo Machine’s music is described as bourbon-soaked gypsy blues bop’n’stroll. Imagine a cross between The Pogues, a New Orleans Marching band and a rollicking blues band. Then throw in the odd Latin beat, mix with theatrical pastiche and a Halloween themed stage and you are close to describing one of the most bizarre bands you will ever see. But the Urban Voodoo Machine is not just a stunning stage show, the music is substantial, vibrant and high quality. The band is a fluid musical collective led by master showman Paul-Ronney Angel who was joined by seven of his musical family; two … Continue reading The Urban Voodoo Machine. Live at The Holroyd, Guildford *****