It’s a mid-week trip for the three regulars this week as an act we have have previously seen supporting Johnny Winter is headlining at Fibbers. We were also joined by a Fibbers debutante and potential new regular.
First up was Ryan Spendlove, a man with a blue guitar (so Roj was impressed) and a clear, very strong voice. He was previously frontman for the Blueskins – the only band I’ve ever come across who are/were based in Gawthorpe. His set started strongly, with tracks called as Medicine and Bye Bye. Then came something I assume was called Lies (or, possibly, Lies Lies) and which seemed to turn him into a West Yorkshire version of Billy Bragg. Lyrically amusing, but perhaps a little shouty, this track was, for me, the last highpoint of the set. Not that the rest was bad, you understand, it’s just that the songs started to sound a bit samey. Internet search results indicate that Ryan is a Blues guitarist. I’m not going to argue with them but his music didn’t really fit in with my (albeit somewhat limited) experience of the Blues. A reasonable start to the evening.
Next on stage was Fox’N’North – members of Vudu-Blues band Hijak Oscar. Now, Andy was with us tonight and he’s not exactly enamoured of Hijak Oscar so we weren’t paying as much attention as we maybe should have been. To be fair, though, they certainly fit my definition of the Blues a bit more than Ryan Spendlove did, albeit with a little bit more harmonica than is necessary. From what I heard, they didn’t sound too bad and the set was certainly better than when we saw the full band at The Duchess a few months back. They finished with Dylan’s Rock Me Mama, a favourite from the Hazzard County days, which gained them extra respect from me.
Finally, Ian Siegal and his band (Andy Graham on bass and Nikolaj Bjerre on drums). Ian definitely plays the Blues and plays them well. The last time we saw him, we didn’t know what to expect. Having heard him, though, we knew we were in for a treat. Ian’s occasionally humour-laden lyrics are performed with an incredible vocal range which belies his deep, gruff speaking voice. His guitar playing is superb, mixing bottle-neck and traditional styles. This tour is to promote new album, Broadside (Mojo magazine’s Blues album of the month and, if Ian is to be believed, soon to be announced Blues album of the year) so most of the tracks are from that album. There was one, however, that I thought I recognised from the last time we saw him. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch any of the titles.
Ian and his band performed a well-crafted set – building to a show-ending crescendo, leaving the reasonably sized audience clamouring for more before Ian takes to the stage to perform a solo track from his The Dust album (not one he wrote but one that, according to the author, he performs like he wrote). Finally it’s the full band again with and incredible final song. Throughout the set, Ian shows a very dry wit, commenting on the size of the audience and the luxurious Travelodge that the band will be staying in before their next gig, amongst other things.
This was, as we expected, a highly entertaining and well-performed gig. I just have one criticism – if you are touring to promote and album, should you not have it on sale at the gig?