The irony was not lost on London's 100 Club crowd last Sunday, that just two night's earlier, an attrocity had been committed at another vibrant European Capital city. If that was not bad enough, the fact that the most heinous of the crimes had been committed at a live music venue in Paris made it all the more sickening - if that were possible. So Born Healer's Helen Turner's welcome was all the more poignant as she reflected and thanked the audience for supporting this gig.
Founded at the beginning of this year out of the now defunct but well respected Bare Bones Boogie Band - with Helen (vocals), Iain Black (guitar) and Andy Jones (drums) - they have been joined by bass guitarist Marek Funkas to form London Blues Rock band – Born Healer. They opened with Funkas' (never was a surname more appropriate) cool bassline on 'River' followed by 'Trust Yourself' - Turner's groovy, gravelly voice and stage presence coming to the fore. After 'Pressure Valve' Black's intro on 'Til The Dawn' took things down tempo for the 'Blues Police' in attendance. Classy. Following 'Share The Ride' and 'Brand New Day' - they covered Taj Mahal's 'Leaving Trunk' which grooved and rocked in true 60's/70's acknowledgement. However, after 'Healing Hands' they saved their best cover to last - sending one young lady near me into rapture (who was wearing the same boots as Helen apparently) - with Zep's 'Since I've Been Loving You' - faultless - as was the rest of the set - a standard that was going to dictate the rest of the evening.
It's really pleasing to see that The Rainbreakers - who opened our BluesRockfest in July - are getting the recognition they deserve. You couldn't meet a nicer bunch of hard working guys who despatched their traditional "on the road" tweet on their way up from Ilfracombe, Devon! The guys opened up with a combination cover of Hendrix's 'Third Stone from the Sun' and the groove of Albert Collins' 'If You Love Me Like You Say' but it's the strength of their own EP - as they followed up with 'On My Knees' and the title track 'Blood Not Brass' - that really sets them apart from the rest. The script was pretty much the same as BluesRockfest with Free's 'Fire And Water' and the guys completing their EP with 'AlI I Got' and the stand-out riff driven finale 'Ain't Nothin' Goin' On'. But to be fair Ben (Lead Vocals), Jack (Lead Guitar), Peter (Bass) and Sam (Drums) seem a lot tighter now and it would be unfair to single any of them out - given they are really revelling in their delivery - throwing in two new covers - The Wood Brothers 'Honey Jar' and a surreal Monophonics version of 'Bang Bang'. Well played chaps - ain't nothin' goin' on? You're having a laugh!
The legendary Power-Rock band Mountain made its electrifying debut at Woodstock, in the summer of 1969. Thirty-five years and millions of album sales later, the line up still included the whiskeyvoiced singer/guitarist, Leslie West, and the incomparable Corky Laing on drums when the WRC saw them at the Mick Jagger Centre, Dartford, in 2005. Another ten years down the line, and with West unable to tour because of health issues (watch out for news of a new CD release later this week), it's now "Corky Laing plays Mountain" joined by guitarist Phil Baker and bassist Joe Venti. Well Laing delivered exactly what it said on the tin as the heavy power trio kicked off with Mountain's 'Silver Paper', followed by Venti's bass riff on 'Never In My Life' and then the rockin' 'Long Red'. An early inclusion of an abridged version of the iconic 'Nantucket Sleighride' was a surprise - with Venti's vocals commanding the middle of the stage with unquestionable support from Baker's brilliant guitar and Laing's magical sticks either side of him.
And if 'Nantucket' had not set the scene then the clanking cowbell of 'Mississippi Queen' plus the classic 'Theme From An Imaginary Western' not only took us to another level but the latter also touched upon Laing's work with the late great Jack Bruce. It was then back to '69 with 'Dreams Of Milk And Honey/Blood Of The Sun' before, mid-set, Corky's undeniable presence multiplied with his own drum solo and vocals on Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone' followed by 'Don't Look Around' and 'Sittin' On A Rainbow' -which maintained the momentum. Laing also made reference to the events in Paris - although you could have filed his anecdotal intro to 'Yasgur’s Farm' under the category 'You couldn't make it up'. Corky's story being that he never actually played with Mountain at Woodstock but ended up on the soundtrack recording with Ten Years After and won two Gold Discs! Given Laing is now 67 - he is not showing it - as testified nearing the end of this awesome set on 'Travelling In The Dark'. A departure from the Mountain trail was the classic West Bruce and Laing 'Doctor' followed by a further nod to Bruce with a Cream medley finale featuring 'Politician' and of course 'Sunshine of Your Love'.
A top night for all the punters that were there to witness three quality bands - but also a fitting tribute to those in Paris who needlessly died or were injured - doing what they loved - listening to live music.
Vive La Musique!