Bolaji Blues Band / Storm Warning
The Limelight Theatre,
The long awaited Storm Warning album has finally hit the streets after a long incubation of over two years allowing some new additions to their set which we were to enjoy later in the evening.
However, first up was The Bolaji Blues Band, their first appearance since reforming after a four-year gap and unsurprisingly they seemed slightly nervous at the start. They soon relaxed, and played an all-to-short, but accomplished set of well chosen blues classics. Songs like Bessie Smith's 'Gin House' and B. B. King's 'Rock Me Baby' showcased the superb blues voice of Dave Lowrance, while Eric Clapton's 'Old Love' and The Allman Brothers' 'Ramblin' Man' allowed the gentle guitar style of Dan Smith to wash over us. Keeping things ticking over nicely were bassist Ken Redding, new band member Steve Dunkley on drums and Storm Warning's Ian Salisbury guesting on keyboards. It was all over too soon. With the crowd calling for more, the band had to leave the stage with no further songs fully rehearsed to allow an encore. Hopefully that will change soon.
A season of 'Blues nights at the Limelight' would not be complete without an appearance from local band Storm Warning: Stuart 'Son' Maxwell (harmonica/vocals), Bob Moore (guitar), Derek White (bass), Ian Salisbury (keys) and Russ Chaney (drums). The set however did not start well. A faulty lead resulted in a staccato delivery of Hendrix's 'Stone Free', reminiscent of Norman Collier. Maxwell has an excellent rapport with the audience, which makes for an entertaining show, and his suggestion that if it was good enough for Metallica at The Grammys, then it was good enough for Storm Warning at The Limelight went down well with the audience.
After the required cable replacement the evening progressed much more smoothly as they launched into 'The Woman Or The Blues', taken from their first album. The set continued with a mix of their own material and a selection of covers, many taken from the long awaited new album; 'Take Cover'.
A rendition of Bob Dylan's Maggie's Farm, followed by Storm Warning's own 'Lonely Guy' led us to one of the highlight songs of the night; Otis Rush's 'Double Trouble' which brought the fluid guitar style of Moore to the fore, aided by Salisbury's free flowing keyboard. By this point Maxwell, who had originally appeared on-stage sporting interesting headgear, namely a beanie, realised it had been a bad choice under the hot lights and happily discarded it. Things were warming up!
After a tale of how Stuart Maxwell's harmonicas had recently been mistaken for bullets at an airport, they were then put to good use during a song called 'Bullets', a staple of Storm Warning gigs, and for good reason with its catchy riff. Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Crossfire' brought a return to the covers and allowed Bob Moore to get down to some superb guitar work. Led Zeppelin's Custard Pie followed. This did not come across particularly well; it was neither a completely different interpretation nor a fine copy. Perhaps this recent addition to their set needs a bit more polish. A return to form quickly followed when the band delved into the blues archives and served up a stunning 'Five Long Years', a John Lee Hooker classic. The set was wrapped up with a new cover, Alex Harvey's 'Swampsnake', an interesting choice.
This band has been together for a long time and it shows in the tight, slick performance that they always deliver, equipment problems aside. On this occasion Stuart Maxwell's vocals came across rather harsh, possibly a side effect of the hasty equipment changes at the start. The choice of music for the night provided a mix of styles, which the audience loved. The obligatory encore called for by the partisan crowd was 'Hoochie Coochie Man' it was delivered with style to wrap up an enjoyable evening.
Words: Bronwen Harvey
Photo: Laurence Harvey