18 April 2014 (gig)
27 April 2014
The second instalment of the recently launched Edinburgh Blues Club was a mixture of stonkin’ hot and scorching hot. The former more traditionally inclined, the latter more rock orientated.
First act to take to the stage was the sensational GT’s Boos Band, and boy what dynamos they turned out to be! Think the Blues Brothers on speed (if that’s actually possible), think smouldering yet penetrating vocals courtesy of frontman Greig Taylor, and blistering guitar solos courtesy of leading axe man John Boos… then imagine the combined wizardry of bassist David Atkinson and drummer Stephen Coetzee, and harmonica genius Jim Harcus (of Wang Dang Delta)… and what you get is a heady concoction of raw, electrifying and no nonsense tunes. After all, how many bands can you name who take pride and joy in performing a number called ‘Crucifixion Blues’ on a Good Friday?! Wiiiiicked sense of humour… even though the song’s lyrical content bares no religious nods whatsoever.
Only two numbers in (‘Come On’ and the choppy ‘All Night Long’) and it became evident that the atmosphere in the venue would only get hotter with each song!
The fabulous ‘Steak House’ truly sizzled, served up in a style that embraces more traditional blues roots.
‘Lonely Roads’ came on equally bluesy, with magical harmonica interludes by J. Harcus that added to the number’s Deep South feel. The band obviously wanted to transmit that sense of euphoria to the crowd – and they succeeded! Then another audacious surprise: the ole Motörhead s**tkicker ‘Whorehouse Blues’ got the GT Boos make-over, and Mr. Lemmy Kilmister should be so proud! This rendition grew horns as it went on, with Greig Taylor belting out the lyrics “Well we came up from the gutter, the wrong sides of the tracks. We gonna hit you like a flash of lightning, just like a bad boy would” with the utmost relish.
After ‘Jumping At Shadows’ and ‘Dust My Broom’, Greig announced a little revelation: ‘I Loved Another Woman’! Right on, uninhibitedly swampy, and with a sprinkle of Santana-style guitar twangs, this was another magnificent number. Last song ‘Death Letter’ was smokin’ hot and broken up with another ultra-heavy, lengthy guitar solo delivered by J. Boos. In short, we are talking a band that knows how to embrace all sorts of blues influences and blast it out 21st century style.
Oh, and then it was time for a break and the raffle, before the main act was announced.
Main act of the night was the very talented, and very young (20), singer/songwriter/guitarist Eilidh McKellar. For Eilidh, a native daughter of Edinburgh, it was her first headlining gig in her hometown. Obviously, excitement and expectations were high. Cutting a petite figure framed by a wild mane of hair, Eilidh and band blasted into the first chords like a whirlwind, and it was refreshing to see that here is a female artist who fully appreciates the true spirit of rock by… performing it! So well in fact that it caught the attention of US blues-rocker Joe Bonamassa, who promptly invited her to perform for one of his gigs. Groovy opener ‘Killer Joe’ was followed by her single release ‘Summer Daze’, a number with catchy hooks but here laced with fretted fury. ‘Hold Steady’ – a scorcher in the classic blues-rock vein, demonstrated Eilidh’s strong instrumental skills, and for this number she switched to a Les Paul guitar. Her band, which was never introduced by name, consisted of a backing vocalist, bassist, guitarist, drummer, and guest keyboardist Dan Hudson. ‘Dead Man Walking’ and the superbly titled ‘Delta Devil Dreams’ (also the title of her upcoming album) descended into an orgy of killer strokes pounding against ones eardrums – fast, loud and furious, and full of attitude. As Eilidh explained prior, she grew up listening to daddy’s record collection… in particular bands like the Stones and Led Zeppelin. That fierce Zep influence crept up on a number of songs, and at times our guitar heroine completely emerged in her picking the strings. Indeed, the emphasis seemed to be on the rock side more than on the blues-rock side, prompting a somewhat mixed reaction especially from the older members of the audience. Then again, rock emerged from the blues, but contemporary rock also needs a fresh take on it, as the young artist rightly observed.
Eilidh’s cover version of ‘Lipstick Wonder Woman’ – a number originally by Tylor Bryant & The Shakedown, turned out to be a real treat. Keeping banter to a minimum, at one point she also announced her plans of focusing more on her studies (rocket science nonetheless) once the album is out.
‘The City’, the seething ‘Home’ and the soulful ‘Avenue E’ all were performed impeccable and if proof were needed that here is someone truly capable of mastering her instruments, then Eilidh was that proof! Unfortunately, for the most part of the set her voice went under amidst all the stone-heavy riffs and making out her singing turned into a bit of a challenge. Well, there’s always a next time. One thing for sure: Eilidh’s musical career looks bright, and one day all will fall into place.