HRH Blues VI @ O2 Academy, Sheffield.
Saturday 9th April 2022
McHale's Permanent Brew
Openers, McHale's Permanent Brew are made up of Paul McHale (Vocals/Guitar); Frank McHale (Guitar/Vocals); Ste Houghton (Bass); Chris Orrell (Drums) & Si Lomax (Keyboards).
They have a style that mixes in some ballsy Americana (think Drive By Trucker) with elements of Pearl Jam and Neil Young aspects too all moulded into one. Paul has a beefy strong voice with good presence. He said he could not stop smiling because he was so happy to be there!
It's packed in here already just about!
Porcelain Hill are a solid cool as hell trio from Los Angeles, California who frequent here a lot - they obviously like these parts! They consist of Darnell 'Big D' Cole (Guitar/Vocals), Sonny 'Wildfire' Campos (Drums/Backing Vocals) and Jakob 'Special K' Parnham (Bass). There is some smart sounding soloing between Bass and Guitar with a cracking backbeat on them drums.
Darnell is slick moving and knows how to work the stage and could become the star of the entire day at this rate. File these cats somewhere between Jimi Hendrix & Curtis Mayfield.
Rebecca Downes has a powerful voice as ever. She changes it up a bit with in the set at times by letting her larynx take centre stage without her leopard spotted Telecaster. It was hard to hear her Fender during the show which had been placed so low in the mix.
A major highlight was the rendition of 'With A Little Help From My Friends' in the grand ole Cocker style. I love the fact that there was plenty of lyric trading too.
So poor old Danny has got a sore throat. Never good when you are a vocalist too - he gets by though but must be in a bit of pain when he hits the higher notes. He does not let it get him down and is full of personality regardless and joking with crowd on a regular basis.
Mr. Bryant also asks us if we are a having a good time? As if we'd say no! Style-wise it's very Colour by numbers blues but fun stuff all the same. There are some fantastic Hammond sounds making the mark in the mix and really spruce it up. A standout includes the number towards the end of the set that was like a cross of 'Spirit In The Sky' meets a slowed down 'La Grange'.
Billy Walton Band
Billy Walton Band were a tight impeccable talent that added in some killer sexy sax and top dollar trumpet sounds into a superb sounding set that was a perfect moulding of blues, rock and soul. The man himself was first noticed when he was the lead guitarist for Southside Johnny!
As you can no doubt imagine, they from the Jersey Shore (that's New Jersey not the island off the UK full of non-taxpayers). Billy's band is made up of William Paris (Bass), Tom Petraccaro (Saxophone), Eric Safka (Hammond B3), Bruce Krywinski Jr (Trumpet), Shane Luckenbough (Drums) & Destinee Monroe (Guitar/Vocals).
They went down really well and had a perfect positioning on day one, making the best of the well-packed crowd on this late Saturday afternoon. Splendid stuff indeed - an outfit who are no strangers to HRH Blues!
Okay, these were the 1st band to grace the stage upstairs in the smaller intimate room. I must apologise since I did not catch too much of their set but they were a strong solid act to say the very least who perform a cracking selection of Blues Rock in this new line-up of the band.
Ryk Mead Band
London based Ryk Mead Band are up next - with the man himself being quite a pedigree, despite still being pretty much unknown in his own right on the larger blues scale of things and played alongside folk such as Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd), The Pretty Things & Steve Waller (Manfred Man's Earth Band) to name but a few and performed all over from the USA to China. Steve Cooper joins him on Bass/Vocals with Adam Bond on Drums.
He has a very hard-edged style that I associate with the sounds from the British early 60s and onwards - authentic, raw and in your face that makes your hair stand on end. He also mixes some Jazz and Rock in as well, making him not your usual run of the mill kind of player. Good stuff and would like to see a full set one day up here again as I missed an awful lot due to clashing with what was on downstairs.
Upstairs again was the exceptional Thirteen stars from Cumbria with JJ Watt on Guitar - that dude is in at least 3 or 4 different bands at last count - talk about a busy boy! Other members going by the name of Scott Mason (Drums), Bret Barnes (Saxophone) and Hoss Thompson (Lead Vocals/Guitar). This outfit is very Rocky Blues meets Americana who blew me away with amazing top standard female backing singers in Lol Jackson (also on Keyboards) & Kira Mac!
There was a long track at the end that got ya going and was as cool as hell which was like the Rolling Stones meets Reggae if I remember right. That Sax too sounded magic which added an extra layer of greatness to the already remarkable up-tempo enchanting band!
Downstairs on the main stage is a Rock Legend who needs no introduction. Bernie Marsden gave us a treat of how to play blues well in his loud Chicago meets the South style and plays us stuff like 'Red House' and a Whitesnake classic or two like the cover 'Ain't No Love (In The Heart Of The City)' and closes with 'Here I Go Again'.
He has us all singing along to those "Here's a song for ya!" moments as you can imagine and wisely opts for lower octaves as opposed to top notes in many of those famous songs that even David Coverdale himself struggles to reach comfortably these days. Mr. Marsden is well and truly a master supreme with lovely blues harp added too, not to mention a fine fitting band of complete class!
And the headliners tonight are The Quireboys minus you know who. Guy Griffin took the role with his Telecaster having a chance to take centre stage too. There was the odd heckle to which he said "He is behind you" with a buddy of ours thrown out for be being too vocal about it before the 3rd song if I remember right!
Guy did an impeccable job and they totally pulled it off saying it had been 'A Long Time Coming' before they did the song itself. Up in the Royalty section on the balcony there were some Blues Purists bawling for blues with Guy saying, "We play 'Rock 'N' Roll' and do they not like rock n roll?" These are the type that would have probably shouted "Judas" at Bob Dylan at Manchester in 1964 for going electric right?
Before announcing 'Roses And Rings' Guy exclaimed that it reminded him of drinking underage in L.A. when he was younger - well you do have to 21 there to do it legally... hahaha... An army of classics are delivered where we are asked, "What time is it?" Well actually, it's probably gone 10 pm but it's '7 O' Clock' regardless - LOL! Anyway, It goes down real good as does their encore in the form of 'Sex Party'.
Tonight the 'Boys nail it since they give a faultless performance that every person I spoke to after agreed with me on. Believe it or not they were an even tighter together unit with a member down - Lord strike me down for saying that but it really is true. To be honest, in the long run the unit will work like this since it was perfectly flowing and very smooth.
Congratulations guys. You did yourselves proud!!