Tonight was all about talent and what a night it was at Sedgefield Blues Club. The club has been going for a long time now and has generated a reputation for putting on exceptionally high-quality gigs to the point where people now will show up even without knowing the band. Such is the club’s guarantee of a good night.
Tonight was no different and a packed room where charmed and delighted, going away with ringing ears and happy smiles.
First they were simply charmed, as support act George Shovlin sat down to pluck his acoustic guitar. Shovlin is an unassuming figure, brought in at the last minute as tonight’s support, he rallied around some friends to join his stripped back set on keyboard, bass, guitar and simple percussion. This was all he needed to weave his magic and within the first 4 bars of the first track, the crowd were hooked. Obviously, a man of many years on the stage under his belt, his comfortable banter worked with the crowd but it was when he sang that his power over them was complete. An effortlessly masterful display.
It was a set of laid back acoustic blues borrowed from the very early days when blues was blues. Mixing the set list with original material and a selection of covers, two of which he remade into his own style, making them almost unrecognisable from the Sunhouse and Brownie McGhee originals. The assembled players shone bring tonight and backed Shovlin perfectly almost intuitively at moments leaving no doubt the talent between them. The keyboard playing in particular stole the show several times.
Shovlin was not to be outdone though, and shone the brightest, glorious to hear, as he pushed his vocals. Captivating and powerful helped by the impressive sound system that the club used making tonight one of the best sounding gigs I have been to.
The main event took to the stage after some guitar virtuoso backing track which set the scene for the night, Gerry Jablonski is one hell of a six string talent. It was like watching some of the best guitarists the world has witnessed all in one man. Again featuring original compositions and covers he treated the audience to a night of blues rock energy and moments of hugely impressive musical showcases.
Jablonski comes across as the love child of Clapton and Jeff Beck the latter showing through in guitar solos of ‘Nessun Dorma’ and George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. The band were a sight to behold and ever better heard. There was no ego here just pure talent and a love of music making.
The band had one special trick up their sleeves and that was harmonica player Peter Narojczyk. Easily matching Jablonski in skill he took on what could be looked as the second lead guitarist’s role. A proper showman, he set about adding a touch of colour to tracks and even ripping out a few guitar solos on Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’ and Eric Clapton’s ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’.
A highlight of the night was the band’s song ‘Anybody’ which started with just Gerry and the band’s drummer, Lewis Fraser on vocals, who’s voice suited the more emotive qualities of the track. Lacking Jabronski’s rough edges he delivered the particular emotive lyrics powerfully before adding more power to the track when he picked he picked up his sticks, a lovely change added to tonight’s set. ‘Anybody’ really hit hard, and as the rest of the band joined Narojczyk delivered perhaps one of the best harmonica solos I have heard.
‘Strange Love’ was another track that stood out. Thunderous riffing wah-wah drenched brilliance taken from the band’s latest album. Koss was another track off that album dedicated to Free’s guitarist Paul Kossoff who Jablonski commented on being a big hero of his.
Not content with writing just about his heroes, we also got a track written for drummer Fraser who suitably took the lead vocals on. A track that allows Jabronski to show off his rhythm guitar skills. Content with keeping things steady and allowing the song to bloom before letting rip once again and melting a few faces in the process.
The band’s new single ‘Cold’ got an airing also which joins ‘Strange Love’ with its electric riffing. These guys were meant for the stage and their recordings really don’t do their magic justice. The band go with the tagline of ‘the best band you have never seen’, however, tonight I saw them and they are one of the best bands I have seen. And thanks to Sedgefield Blues Club I heard every note and voice crystal clear too.