The New Generation Blues 2018 rolled into the Boom Boom Club for the penultimate date of a UK tour that has seen them work their way from Hartlepool to Worthing.
The Danny Giles Band (aka The DBG), Red Butler and The Brent Hutchinson Band are good value for a triple ‘Best of British’ package that takes in guitar driven blues-rock, funk, fusion and even melodic pop.
To say all three bands are doing things the old school way is more of a comment about their commitment and willingness to do the miles, rather than the music they play, which is refreshingly big on self penned material and understated chops.
Each band brings a different colour to the palette and a new dynamic to the evening as a whole. And for a show that changes its running order every night, New Generation Blues is a triumph based on adaptability and versatility, as evidenced by the vociferous crowd reaction. The energy in the room is generated on stage, but is returned in kind by the receptive crowd.
First up is the ebullient Brent Hutchinson Band. Buoyed by their recent lofty position in the IBBA play list charts with their debut ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ album, BHB are big on tight funky rhythms, melodic hooks and the occasional arresting instrumental like ‘Stevie.’
They open with a brand new song called ‘Shot Gun’, an Ian Hill bass-led stomp that leads to a novel solo by drummer Connor Osgood. He plays Brent’s guitar with his drum sticks on a little break-down, before they tear into the funky ‘Better The Devil You Know’ on a great example of their oeuvre.
The trio’s breathless set is the perfect opening – high on energy and well crafted material – with warm sounding solo’s that draw us into the songs rather than the other way round.
UK Blues Challenge Winners Red Butler make the most of their middle spot, They have settled in with the new dual lead guitar led line-up of Alex Butler and vocalist Dan Spellman, and their heavier sound underpins the grooves and helps shape their own direction.
Just back from their first Spanish tour, they radiate brio, bordering on swagger, but they have the songs and chops to back it up.
Their attack is relentless, but the key to their accessibility is the way they effortlessly shift from a hard rock impact, to the self penned, Gary Moore-influenced ‘Last Page Of The Blues’ and the veritable snap of the standard ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’.
And as the guitarist Butler and bassist Mike Topp head into the crowd on a chanted anthem ‘Show Me The Money’, their subsequent triple guitar crouch at the front of the stage, in which each member plays the other’s instrument, evokes The Hoax in their hey-day.
Red Butler mine big grooves and make the most of Dan Spellman’s vocal phrasing which gives the band its unique identity. They are a band on the way up. This could be their time and their moment and we await a killer album with impatience.
And so to the DGB (Danny Giles Band). A classic power trio with one of the best rhythm sections on the live circuit today, they are a powerhouse outfit fronted by the imposing figure of Danny Giles, a guitarist with a huge voice and big tone to match his stature.
They make light of having to follow Red Butler’s climactic finish with a set full of drive, musical excellence and plenty of feel.
The booming self-penned shuffle ‘Been There Twice’ is an exemplar of what they do so well. The band is the sum of its talented parts. An unexpected riff driven cover of Billy Cobham’s ‘Stratus’ is a highlight. It’s driven by drummer Pat Garvey’s lightness of touch and anchored by Jon Chase’s bass pulses, as the set unexpectedly veers into some well received fusion.
Then just to emphasize the band’s versatility and balanced focus, Danny leans into Johnny Guitar Watson’s ’3 hours After Midnight’, to explore tonal depth on a deep blues that features his best vocal of the night.
They positively swing on ‘Hold On’, as Garvey adds an extravagant cymbal splash either side of Danny’s passionate vocal.
The refreshing thing about The DGB is that they always support the song. The trio’s exhilarating interplay shifts from cool dynamics to real intensity, which Danny resolves with a mix of shreds and fluent solos that brings the crowd to its feet.
There’s just enough time for a celebratory, jammed out version of ‘Tanqueray’. And somewhere in between the smiles and roars of appreciation you can’t help but feel that Messieurs Giles, Butler and Hutchinson and their respective bands have worked hard for moments like this. They deserve your support.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Rockrpix except 6 (taken at Beaverwod Club) by MHPStudio
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
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UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 23 March 2021.
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