Hare Hill - 21 Mar 2009
Saturday 21st March 2009, at The Hare Hill Social Club, Surrey
. . . they were followed by So Long Angel. This is a fantastic band which I only encountered a couple of years ago - but which I think is brilliant.
It is fronted with vocals from bass guitarist (and sometimes flautist) Fran McGillivray. Mike Burke plays lead guitar and sings backup vocals.
James Britton played the drums - I had not met James before this evening, he is a tidy drummer and was so tight you wouldn't know he was a dep.
Roland Kemp played the keyboards - a lovely sound, reminiscent of Brian Auger.
Their music is a fusion of blues and jazz - very beautifully presented and with a lot of their own compositions as well as some refreshing interpretations of really classic standards.
I was with Jackie Lynton while Angel were playing a song called Freedom - one of Fran & Mikes own compositions and one of my favourites. "I don't know this one" he said, "Who wrote this?" When I told him he gave her the highest accolade he ever could. "It's F**king good" he said.
Roger (the Roadie)
Scratchers - Sun 28 Sep 2008
Sunday 28th September, we were at Farncombe near Godalming to see So Long Angel performing at Neale Berwicke's pub Scratchers (aka The Three Lions) www.thethreelions.net
We hadn't seen this band before, but it features Mike Burke and Fran McGillivray, of whom we have both become firm fans. As well as Fran with her sultry honey and chocolate voice and her bass guitar and Mike with his dextrous guitar work - the band also includes Roger Nunn on percussion and Roland Kemp on keyboards. They are a delight - very reminiscent of Affinity back in the sixties - at the blues end of the jazz/blues fusion spectrum.
Mike's guitar was ringing out clear and the more I see and hear of Mikes playing the more dextrous he seems to get !
The acoustics in Scratchers aren't the best in the world, but this band rose above them and somehow filled the place with sound without resorting to high volumes. A key component of this is Fran's voice which is strong and clear and fills the space she is singing in beautifully, all the while her bass guitar is lazily stitching together the theme and the beat of each piece of music.
Roger Nunn plays a fine set of drums with a nice crisp clear snare sound and a surprising amount of light work on the crash cymbals. He also got to demonstrate that he could play "heavy" on an awesome song called 'Freedom', a beautifully arranged anthemic song delivered in Fran's deep mellow voice, with haunting guitar work from Mike and a rolling beat on both Rogers toms. It was beautifully and very movingly delivered - it made the hairs on the back of neck stand up.
I asked afterwards, and apparently they wrote this piece themselves.
I had to buy the CD " . . falling . . " and played it all the way home.
Roland is a handy keyboard player, his opening chords in the evening reminded me of Jimmy Smith back in the early sixties. He also provided vocal backing - and was vocal lead on two songs - one of which was a nice arrangement of 'Walking The Dog'.
The whole evening was great; the addition of drums adds extra depth and dimension to Fran and Mike's brilliant playing; and Roland's interventions on keyboards added flavour in all the right places. They performed some of the songs which we have heard Mike & Fran deliver as a duo, and they sound equally as good with a band - especially 'I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water and Sleep Out in a Hollow Log' and 'Spoonful'.
A very professional show presented to an extremely appreciative audience. We will certainly want to see this band again.
Roger Cooper and Fran Cooper
The Red Lion, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
So Long Angel - The Red Lion, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
A first time gig for So Long Angel and they gave the blues night another dimension with their brand of blues, with just a hint of jazz influence. This is in part because of the sax playing of Michael, both alto and tenor, who also plays harmonica. The band were promoting their album 'Falling', review to follow, which consists of original material. The two sets they played were mainly original material with just a few covers. Fran, vocals and bass, has an excellent blues voice which really works well with a deep sultry sound, and along with Roger on drums keeps the rythm section solid. Mike on guitar also gives a nod to the jazz side of the band with some really relaxed playing that fitted the sound of the band and the mood of the evening. Roland on keyboards helps to give the band some added depth as well as helping out on vocals. As one member of the audience said 'I like this it's got a really nice groove to it' I'm sure that So Long Angel will be back soon and are well worth catching, with their relaxed blues with a hint of jazz.
review by Clive D Langston
"Some fresh tingly blues out of Her Majesty's royal mail from:
SO LONG ANGEL - female fronted London band that brings subtle, sensitive, original blues" - UK Bob www.UKBOB.com
"This British band, founded in 1996 carrying the somewhat surprising name So Long Angel is musically situated in the world of folk rock, blues, rock and jazz. A varied repertoire which might yield some surprises. Bass player Fran McGillivray has an appealing, sultry voice. She co-wrote all songs for this album with singer/guitar player Mike Burke and singer/keyboard player Roland Kemp. So, no covers, all their own stuff, I can appreciate that.
Falling opens with the rock bluesy 'Cell Phone Blues' based on a tight rhythm section. 'Rhythm & Blues' is a lovely reggae-ish tune with surprising soloing by sax player Michael Paice. The transparent 'Ecstasy' makes you think of the swamp sound of Tony Joe White while 'Closer To Midnight' lays down a fine jazzy groove with some avant-garde. 'Love Is Freedom' is completely different, fine harmonica on a jungle beat à la Bo Diddley, one of the few whipped up songs of the album. S.L.A. have no problem with operating in varied musical fields. The musicians are all very competent.
The fact all songs are their own especially deserves merit."
Reviewed by: Bobtje in Belgium: www.bobtjeblues.com
UK – SO LONG ANGEL: ' . . falling . . '
"Opening with a track featuring a lyric contributed by promoter George McFall, this album finds So Long Angel exploring their own brand of late-night albeit forceful blues music. ‘Cell Phone Blues’ is the number and singer Fran McGillivray sounds angry yet the next cut ‘Rhythm & Blues’ has a loping semi-reggae beat with apposite guitar stabs and the ever-present warm Hammond sound that so colours this set and she is in pure jazz mode.
Fran also plays steady-fingered unshowy bass whilst guitar man Mike Burke has a subtle unhurried approach occasionally unleashing fiery solos; sax and harp player Michael Paice is a real asset. Roger Nunn drums like a man who listens a la Sam Kelly, just right for this crew. Keyboards are by Roland Kemp and very good he is too.
‘Love Is Freedom’ mixes in Bo Diddley touches and almost all the songs have well-considered touches which make the overall sound sophisticated but still pointed – in fact that phrase describes the whole record.
As a live act I am sure on this evidence they would entertain a far wider range of punters than the diehard Blues crowd – having played ‘Ecstasy’ on my radio show the appeal seemed to be across the listenership and this song does show their balance of soul and chops pretty well. Lovely guitar solo on this one, too.
Ten original songs that really grow on you – it’s more a case of Hello, Angel for this reviewer…"
Pete Sargeant - BLUES MATTERS
Hi to the band, I just read the reviews in 'Blues In Britain' and want to say how much I agree with the reviewer, the 'falling' CD sounds fantastic and though I was not present at the reviewed gig, I have seen and massively enjoyed live performances at 'Scratchers'.
It is good to see the band with a 'magazine' profile.
Number 1 in the July playlist
With their new album “Falling”, So Long Angel have brought the full range of their musical experience to bear on an album that sparkles with superb songs, great playing and first class production values.
A smouldering mix of subtle blues, and r&b tinged with jazz might not grab the casual listener as cutting edge material. But from the powerful undulating funk and meaningful mixed metaphors of the opening “Who Were You Calling”, and the reggae back beat of the magnificent “Rhythm & Blues”, So Long Angel set a standard that few of their recorded contemporary peers can match
“Falling” is an album that features a delicate but thoroughly assertive vocal performance by bassist Fran McGillivray, while band members take it in turn to impress with cool solos and sophisticated arrangements. Saxman Mike Paice for example leads from the front on the late night sophistication of “Ecstasy”, a number beefed up with layered synth accompaniment from Roland Kemp.
The crisp tick-tock percussive pattern of drummer Roger Nunn underpins another impressive Michael Burke/Fran McGillivray composition, the funky “Hard Working Woman” .
Rarely can an independent blues record have been as well thought out and produced as this. And given the peerless playing and inspirational groove, the band impress throughout whether on their jazzier output such as “Closer To Midnight” or the closing Tony Joe White influenced swamp blues of “Go”, which finishes in a lovely flurry of Michael Burke’s guitar dynamics.
This album is one of the delights of the year. Let nothing stand in your way to purchasing it!
PETE FEENSTRA - www.feenstra.co.uk
All the tracks on this CD are original, and while in some bands this might be deemed a weakness, in SLA it is not. There are various musical influences - a sprig of reggae, a twig of jazz, a thimbleful of Bo but, the undercurrent is always the blues. Singer and bassist, Fran McGillivray, has a honey-like voice with the gift of timing that people who write their own songs naturally possess. She is accompanied by an ensemble of capable, seasoned musicians.
The theme of the first track "Cell Phone Blues" is a nicely crafted, mid-tempo number about a woman being two-timed the modern way. "Love Is Freedom" begins with and ends with, some visceral harp playing from Mike Paice, who, believe it or not, does not use a 'Chicago' mic to create his own concept of the Paul Butterfield sound - impressive. He also plays alto and tenor on this album really well too. "Whiskey Talking" (Haven't we all been there and done that?) is a low-down, moody blues with instrumentation that is sympathetic to the lyrics.
There are a lot of good tracks on this CD but, the one that really stands out for me is: "I Want To Make Love". It is a slow and moving blues song that has some exquisite key changes in it. Norah Jones would love it.
What I admire about So Long Angel is that the band adopts the holistic approach to their songs. There are no onanistic guitar solos from Mike Burke, no slashing on the kit from Roger Nunn, no saxophonic posturing from Mike Paice or superfluous trilling and thumping from keyboarder Roland Kemp. Of course, you hear good improvisation but, it never gets out of control.
Rating: 8 - Brian Cushion
Fran gave me copy of the CD and I'm really enjoying it!
It's great to hear a band that plays for each other - Great songs too!
I hope to get down to see you at The National Theatre on the 14th.
Hi Roland, CD is excellent.
See you on 14th July, lucky as I am going to the National to see a play on that day.
Love the CD. Played it many times whilst on hols.
Listen to digital blues for the best in blues and real R'n'B with me, Ashwyn Smyth, every Monday & Wednesday between 8 & 10 p.m. only on Phoenixfm.com, Internet radio for Brentwood, Billericay and the World, at phoenixfm.com
I'm sitting here with a glass of Merlot listening to the CD ( . . falling . . ) I bought from you on Tuesday.
I bought it because I like to support people I know and because it will be a memory when I'm in the rest home. I've got a number of tapes & CD's bought for this reason, however this is the first one that I will really want to play again!
It's good stuff and I intend to turn up on July 14th at the National (I even looked at your website).
(I'm the bloke who attempts to play bass now and again! See you on 26th)
Footnote from Roland : Let it be known that Bernie is a fine young bass player.
This is an excellent album. What struck me was that it combines a very high level of technical expertise with emotional impact.
There was an effortless flow to the tracks that really communicated to the listener while being of very high quality in the composition, sound balance and recording.
Well done guys, carry on creating!
Mark Gardner, ARC Music Int.
Thanks for the copy of the So Long Angel album, which arrived unexpectedly the other day.
I'm just listening to it while I try to clear the chaos and confusion of paperwork that built up while I was finishing my next one, which is now in the can.
' . . falling . . ' sounds great and I really enjoyed tracks 3, 9, & 10.
Thank you for the copy of "Falling" and congratulations on a fabulous album ten great tracks in particular "I Want To Make Love" and "Go" my faves on initial listening also love the re named "Cell Phone Blues".
When are you going to play the Stormy Monday Club?
New Crawdaddy Club, Billericay, Essex - 2003
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