LIVE REVIEW

So Long Angel - New Crawdaddy Club, Billericay, Essex

After wowing the audience at the Digital BluesFest in Hutton, Essex in mid-June, So Long Angel's debut appearance at the New Crawdaddy Club in Billericay was eagerly anticipated by those who had turned out on a dank, late October night. Kicking off with two great originals, "Watching Me, Watching You" and the cool and jazzy "Closer to Midnight", this excellent five piece then treated us to a wonderfully powerful version of Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues", a number which really displayed Fran McGillivray's strong and rich voice to great effect.

This was followed by the McGillivray/Burke penned "Go", a future CD track with a delicious swampy bayou guitar sound with loads of reverb and a lovely organ outro. Keyboard maestro Roland Kemp "stepped up to the microphone" for "Going to Chicago" which featured smashing sax and harp breaks from the wonderfully adept Mike Paice and a lovely "walking" bass line from Fran.

Two more McGillivray/Burke compositions followed with the excellent "Freedom" featuring more lovely guitar from Mike Burke, loads of reverb and vague hints of the Rolling Stones classic "Mona" off their first album, followed by a great mid-paced rock number "Hardworking Woman".

Three fantastic versions of Blues standards followed with a wonderful take on Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign", featuring some smashing guitar from Michael Burke whose playing is superbly understated and all the more pleasurable for that and an almost reggae rhythm behind a great sax solo. Big Mama Thornton's "Unlucky Girl" was followed by a smokily moody "Spoonful" which featured yet more superb harp and guitar.

A final own composition, the Latin flavoured "I've Changed" rounded things off before the band came back for two encores, a great up tempo version of Memphis Minnie's "Chauffeur Blues" and the powerful, "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" by Isaac Hayes.

This set reinforced what an excellent but underrated band this is, brimming with talent, something to which Fran referred on several occasions. Michael Burke, Mike Paice, Roland Kemp and Roger Nunn are individually most talented but together they gel effortlessly, each taking their turn in the spotlight but never seeking to encroach on the other's space. The result is a superb music and performances which are never flashy, always spot on and wonderfully entertaining. Combine this with the power and passion of Fran's vocals, the clever lyrics of much of the original material and the original approach to covers and you have a delicious cocktail which never quite slakes your thirst and leaves you forever wanting more!

Go see this band, you will not be disappointed.

© 2003 Ashwyn Smyth - Digital Blues - www.phoenixfm.com