UK Blues sensation and award winner Laurence Jones and his new expanded 4-piece band hit the Lichfield Guildhall last Sunday night on his “Take Me High” tour. This was after a mammoth travel schedule which included a gig in central London (Borderline) on Friday, Trondheim via Heathrow and Oslo (for the Nidaros Blues Festival) on Saturday and return, and a trip in the tour bus to Lichfield for the gig at the Guildhall. Sleep was an optional extra!.
First up on stage was support act Heidi Browne with an acoustic set (joined by her brother Jo). She is an OpenMic winning singer/songwriter (2014) and BBC Radio 2’s Tom Robinson’s “Pick for 2013”.
She gave the crowd several of her own songs in her Jazz style including “Leaving Town”, “Under the Sun”, “Rocking Chair” and
“Boy who Doesn’t Care” with her own haunting melodies and guitar work with backing by
her brother on Cajon.
She is a multi-instrumentalist able to play violin, flute, piano and guitar as well as her own mellow singing style, which is very passionate live.
For the last two songs “White Rabbits” and “Open your Eyes” she went acapella with Jo now playing acoustic guitar to great effect.
Next after a short break (and a raffle) came the main event Laurence Jones and his band.
The band line-up was Laurence Jones (vocals and guitar), Bennett Holland (keyboards and vocals), Greg Smith (bass) and Phil Wilson (drums). This new line-up had Greg and Bennett joined at the end of 2016 to form a newer, younger more energetic line-up.
The band kicked off with the high energy “What’s it Gonna Be”, the title track from his 2015 album of the same name, followed by “Touch your Moonlight”. Both with the high-energy blues style that Laurence and his band excel in.
Next we had a trio of songs from the “Take Me High” album with “Got no place to Go”, “Evil” and Live It Up” with great interplay from Laurence with Greg on bass and Bennett on keyboards, whose backup vocals and keyboard playing move the band to a new dimension with its fuller sound. Phil on drums kept the backing drumming intense or more laid back depending on the song.
The next song “Thunder in the Sky” was one of Laurence’s earliest compositions and was started off by a haunting keyboard intro from Bennett and then Laurence on guitar and vocals, starting slowly and then building to an amazing crescendo, reminiscent to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.
Then with “I Will” it was back to a mellow blues sound with Laurence on strong vocals and guitar work, and great backing keyboard and vocals from Bennett and strong drums and bass. Then on “Something’s Changed” the band moved into a funk and reggae style with a great bass solo from Greg Smith with light drum backing from Phil Wilson.
As a taster for the new album, with songs being sorted during a trip to Curacao in January 2017, Laurence introduced “Don’t Need No Reason” with its compelling lyrics. Then we moved onto an Eric Clapton song “Cocaine” with the audience signing back to the band.
Next up we had “Stop Moving the House” with Laurence recounting the story of a drunk friend trying to find his front door, and after several attempts accusing Laurence in exasperation of “Stop Moving the House”. Laurence then wrote the song after this experience!.
For an encore the band played the Blues standard “Every Day I Have the Blues” to great acclaim.
After the gig Laurence, as he always does, manned the merchandise stand to talk to fans, discussing the music, and selling them CDs and the new tour t-shirts.
The “Take Me High” tour continues with final dates – The Tunnels (Bristol) on 25th April, Robin2 (Bilston) on 26th April, Fruit (Hull) 27th April, Flowerpot (Derby) 28th April, Cluny (Newcastle) 29th April and finally Boom Boom Club (Sutton) on 30th April.
He is then joining Vintage Trouble on their UK tour as well as supporting Kenny Wayne Shepherd on their European & UK tour. This is along with festival appearances including Shipston Proms (1st July) – his home town, Bospop in Weert, Netherlands (8th July) and Festival de Blues in Bejar, Spain (15th July).
His website gives further dates both in the UK and Europe
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