Kicking of the year with a good Blues gig has always felt like the right way to go for me and seeing the reformed SALT at Pete Feenstra’s latest North London venue was worth waiting a couple of weeks for.

SALT were one of the hardest working Blues rockers back in the mid-70’s and even though they never got offered a recording deal that matched their stature they were well loved and had a great following. They opened for Muddy Waters in London the same year as they appeared at Reading festival – the day Thin Lizzy headlined – and were unfortunate to come a cropper at the hands of the London punks who famously said after a shared gig with the Sex Pistols no less “We like your music but we can’t pogo to it”.

So thirty years later and what are they like – simply excellent; a great set full of Blues standards and some of Steve Smiths best one-liners.
Mick Clarke is a fine guitarist and he plays the Gibson like it was mean to be – hard and fast – reserving his Strat for slide work. Chris Sharley drums with remarkable finesse and original bassist Stuart ‘Mac’ McDonald is every inch the classic Blues bassist – solid, unmoving and an absolute bedrock for the band.

They kicked off with Elmore James ‘Dust My Broom’ – “that’s Elmore James #1 tune. He wrote loads of songs but only two tunes and that is #1” quipped Stevie Smith and we were away.
Over an hour of brilliant hearty Blues with Stevie blowing his harp for all he was worth – normally the right one – and mixing it up with Mick’s guitar.
It really sounded as though they hadn’t been apart for three decades- the banter was good and the band really looked and sounded like they were enjoying it all.

Earlier we were treated to a few numbers from an up & coming new band, the ‘Dave Jackson Band’ and as a warm up they were excellent. Dave is a better guitarist than vocalist – and not a bad vocalist - and his Paul Kossoff tinged playing was balanced really well by his missus Jan on bass. They are a band I’ll be looking out for in the next little while.

A good venue, great Blues and a new band – perfect way to start the year.