Prudential BluesFest, O2, London
Seamus McGarvey reviews the London Blues Festival. Stars (pictured above) included Van Morrison and Tom Jones.
'I was lucky enough to make the final day of the Prudential BluesFest on Sunday November 8 at London's O2 featuring an excellent line-up of performers. Lauren Housley, a confident performer, with a good voice and stage presence, featured some songs from her new album 'Sweet Surrender'. Rockabilly singer-guitarist Darrel Higham (pictured below) hit the spot with numbers like 'Hank Williams And Me', Eddie Cochran's 'Somethin' Else' (joking that Eddie wrote it 'for The Sex Pistols'), drawing a good crowd right up to his closing Johnny Burnette's 'Rockabilly Boogie' - a strong performance.
Chris Farlowe (pictured below) featured bluesy items including the medium stepping 'I Don't Want To Sing The Blues No More' and Little Milton's 'Ain't No Big Deal On You'. In tribute to the late Steve Marriott, he sang 'All Or Nothing', headed back to the blues for 'Southbound Train', then Delbert McClinton's 'Standing On Shaky Ground', before 'Out Of Time' brought a highly entertaining set to a close.
Georgie Fame (pictured below) also concentrated on bluesier items like 'If You Live' composed by Mose Allison (due to turn 88 on November 11th), Floyd Dixon's 'Lovin' (Brought Me Into This World)', Ray Charles's 'Get On The Right Track Baby' and 'I Got A Woman' plus Georgie's first Number One, 'Yeh, Yeh' - excellent.
The Blues Band fronted by Paul Jones(pictured below) also delivered a well-balanced set including 'Grits Ain't Groceries', 'Can't Stand To See You Go', Ray Charles's 'Busted', 'Statesboro Blues' and others before closing with 'our only hit', 'Maggie's Farm'. A lively set from a classic band.
In the evening, a capacity audience filled the O2 Arena for a relatively unique stage coupling of Van Morrison and Tom Jones. Van opened with numbers like 'Close Enough For Jazz' and 'Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child', continuing the bluesy theme with 'Playhouse' before 'Precious Time' lifted the pace neatly again. He dipped back into Them's catalogue for 'Baby Please Don't Go' and 'Don't Start Crying Now', played a skillful sax solo on 'I Can't Stop Loving You' and a jazzy 'It's All In The Game' before Jones joined him for 'Sticks And Stones', 'Look Down That Lonesome Road' and 'I'm Not Feeling It Anymore', all of which worked well.
Jones's set started with numbers like 'Burning Hell' and recollections of spending time singing with Elvis after shows in Las Vegas leading to the spiritual 'God's Gonna Cut You Down' and the hand-clapping 'Didn't It Rain', demonstrating his extensive vocal range. From a new album, 'Long Lost Suitcase', came Lonnie Johnson's 'Tomorrow Night' before 'Sex Bomb' got some fans up dancing. Other highlights included 'Elvis Presley Blues', and 'Tower Of Song' in tribute to Hank Williams, before finishing with 'It's Not Unusual' and a fine version of Billy Boy Arnold's 'I Wish You Would'. The evening ended with the two joining forces again for 'What Am I Living For', 'Goodnight Irene', 'Sometimes We Cry' (which they'd recorded together) and a stirring gospel closer, 'Strange Things Happen Every Day', an exciting conclusion to a great day's entertainment.'
Seamus McGarvey ('Juke Blues' Magazine)