JFK Blue is a new band on the rock/blues circuit and tonight they take a step up by opening for the Stevie Nimmo Trio at the new ‘Spirit of the Torrington’ club at the Old Finchleians, Finchley.
They immediately remind us of a by-gone era when support bands were nearly always worth catching.
They quickly make new friends with a well played and succinct set, full of quality material, focussed playing and an ever present melodic sweep that glues their whole set together.
They make light of a flat floor stage and being surrounded by tons of gear to engage with a steadily building crowd. Their self penned, mid tempo material – more Cray than screaming rock/blues – is strong on melody and significant hooks.
Such is the plethora of blues-rock cover bands on the club circuit that JFK Blue is a refreshing change from the norm. They stick to their own well structured material with breezy solos and tight arrangements.
The band has the kind of currently popular cross-generational line-up that now links people like Warren Haynes back to the original Allman Brothers. Suffice it to say, there are no Allman’s in the club tonight, but JFK Blue do boast two former Paul Kossoff members. And when the band starts to stretch out as on ‘Nola ( Gimme The Funk)’, they cross that magical dividing line between being just another support band, and special guests who earn their respect and a subsequent ovation through well crafted songs and effortless playing.
They are by no means the finished article yet, but there are enough inspired moments to suggest there’s plenty of good stuff to come.
They open with the neatly paced ‘St Joseph’ and almost hit a peak early on with the anthemic sounding ‘Shadowlands’. It’s a slow fuse, smouldering rock/blues ballad that builds imperiously towards a sing-along chorus.
Guitarist Iago Banet adds a warm toned melodic solo full of poise, restraint and a neat vibrato, while vocalist Chris Elliott seems unconcerned by being pushed to the limits of his vocal range on another well received song.
They step things up on the self explanatory ‘I Wanna Rock N Roll Ya’, and draw the crowd in with their own brand of polished rock/blues, predicated on a layered sound that is due in no small part to keyboard player Paul Blount
The rock solid rhythm section of Les Victor and drummer Sol Ezra offers the band plenty of scope and variety and by the midway point of their set they explore the kind of grooves that are the perfect launch pad for Spanish guitarist Iago Banet.
He’s very much a feel player who solos within the contours of the song rather than just cranking out endless solos, as he switches from straight lead guitar to slide and back again.
The band’s well paced set is effectively a showcase for their debut album ‘Rough Round The Edges’, which on the evidence of this show should be well worth checking out.
There’s plenty of variety, dynamics and confident ensemble playing which earns both guitarist Banet and keyboard player Blount mid-song appreciation.
Vocalist Chris Elliott once again come into his own on ‘Away From You’, as his pleasant timbre colours the song with an emotional charge.
With time running, they finish with ‘Road Again’ and earn their biggest reception of the night. Job Done
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
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