Regular readers will know that I have a wide taste in music, if not a wide knowledge. If there was one genre I would like to know a lot more about, it’s Blues. From my narrow experience, I know that I like Blues music but I also know that what I have heard barely scratches the surface. Take tonight, for example – I know that I like the headline act and this is the third time I’ve seen him but I couldn’t tell you which particular style of Blues he plays.
I haven’t knowingly seen The Blueflies before tonight. (I think they may have been playing at the York Beer Festival when I was there but can’t be sure.) They play what I would describe as riff-laden, bass heavy Blues and a lot of what they played tonight sounded familiar. I did note down a few lyrics but, despite extensive Googling, I have only managed to come up with the fact that one of the songs was Riot In Cell Block Number Nine (The Blues Brothers), another may have been Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix) and their final song may have been Sugar Sweet (Freddie King). As to the rest, I don’t know – they could have been originals, they may have been covers that I can’t track down. What I do know is that they were certainly played well. Helped by some astoundingly clear vocals and superb guitar solos, the band certainly got more than one person in the better-than-average sized Fibbers crowd tapping their foot, especially during a lengthy third track which was an effortlessly varied instrumental. There was even a nifty little drum solo to fill time during a guitar change. If, like me, you’re a bit of a Blues fan, you could do a lot worse than to see The Blueflies play, especially since you can generally do so for free – keep an eye out for them at the Roman Bath or Victoria Vaults in York, or at a whole host of other venues around the North.
As I have already mentioned, this is the third time I’ve seen Ian Siegal and the second time he’s been the headline act. Either the British Blues scene isn’t very good, or Ian and his band are (I’m putting my money on the latter), as they seem to win a fair few awards, getting best band and best bass player (Andy Graham) at the inaugural British Blues Awards last year as well as Broadside winning Mojo magazine’s Blues Album of the Year in 2009. His style is very different to that of The Blueflies and is described (by Wikipedia) as “rootsy”. He’s a very laid-back performer and doesn’t introduce all of his songs so, again, I have to rely on catching lyrics and t’internet to put together anything like a full set list. Something which, this time, I have singularly failed to do. There was mention of a new album, from which at least The Skinny came from, but there doesn’t seem to be an mention of it on his website. Other songs may have been called Dirty Brown Dog and Hard Pressed to Find Another Man Like Me, but I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter, though – it’s the performance that counts. With a variety of vocal styles, outstanding guitar work, a great variety of songs, including one that starts out slow and simple but developed into something so complex that I had no idea what was going on and another that I would be hard-pressed to recognise as a Blues song, Ian never fails to impress. There’s the occasional nice line in dry humour between songs – “When I got my first tattoo my mother told me that she didn’t really like tattoos. So I recommended she didn’t get one…” – as well as a few anecdotes (I hesitate to call it “name-dropping”) about who he has played with, making it a more genial and, perhaps, more intimate performance than some artists give. We even get a solo performance as part of the encore, which also includes the one cover that I know of – Hot Legs (Rod Stewart) – and, finally, Take A Walk In The Wilderness, from the already mentioned Broadside.