Pete Feenstra chatted to Susan Santos ahead of her UK tour for Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with tracks from her album ‘Skin & Bones’. First broadcast 26 August 2018.
Its rare to come across a left handed blues-rock guitarist with something new to say, but Spanish guitar slinger Susan Santos fits the bill perfectly.
While the focus of her set is undoubtedly her guitar playing – think fluid runs, resonant tone and subtle to intense solos – she’s got an interesting range of material that encompasses blues-rock, jump-blues, boogie, rockabilly and in her more introspective moments Americana.
It all makes for a show full of subtle dynamics and a slow build that she tops with a fun finish, of which more later.
Perhaps the most significant thing about tonight’s stylistically diverse show is that it’s the resolving crunch of her solos that you remember most.
She moves effortlessly from the understated to the startlingly intense, via ripping solos and contrasting moments of studied calm. And she revels in the space created by the fluid rhythm section of bassist Enzo Strano and drummer Alessandro Cinelli from the Cinelli Brothers, and together they bring a breath of fresh air to the power trio format.
Tonight is all about trust, in as much a decent sized crowd is here because of word of mouth. Given another tour this will surely explode into a full blown buzz.
She builds things from the ground up. Her flamboyant stage gear and tumbling mass of curls just about kept in check by a Borsalino style hat, soon becomes a blur as she sets about her freeboard work with gusto.
She quickly draws the audience into her musical vision with the double vocal and slide guitar line of ‘Rattle Snake’, a track from her current ‘Skin & Bones’ album.
It’s a good opener that subtly builds up the tension leading to the first of several defining solos on the night.
She equally good on an unannounced slow blues. She doesn’t say much in the way of introduction, as she simply lets her guitar playing do the talking.
She does ask us if we like the blues, and after nonchalantly overcoming momentary tuning problems she nods to her drummer and digs deep for some real feel and emotion. Her confident tone on a slow blues speaks volumes about her ability to get inside the nuance a song.
And so we’re into a rollercoaster of blues related styles on which she embellishes the numbers with evocative guitar lines. On ‘Skin and she veers into some scintillating rockabilly, ably matched by a rhythm section that pushes her hard, but always supports the song.
She soon back to a slow blues again and engages us by stepping away from the mic to sing to the back of the room, before bringing the dynamics up again with perfect ascending solo that brings whoops of appreciation.
She earns a well deserved encore and gets up close and personal with her crowd on a Hooker style boogie in which she heads to the dance floor followed by her rhythm section. All three band members circle the room without missing a beat and after sitting down for a mid-number photo opportunity she leans into another depth charged solo.
It’s a fun end to a great a great set by a rock blues artist who appears to have all the requisite elements to make a big splash.
Earlier on, the crowd laps up the up coming West London band The Underground Vault. They make a significant impact with a psychedelic rock- blues tinged stoner rock set built on a riff driven wall of sound and a nod to early Hawkwind.
Showcasing their 2nd EP/CD called ‘In The Water’, they build their grooves imperiously on the back of a propulsive drummer and a twin guitar-led attack. They fully deserve their big reception.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Rockrpix
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