Warrington Summer Blues Festival at the Parr Hall Warrington Review

15 July 2017

Reviewed by Jan Mellor

The Parr Hall was host to a Summertime festival in the heart of the town of Warrington – a festival that comprised of four up and coming British bands with a passion for blues rock and roll. The event was a 5-hour programme of sheer escapism for the crowd who had travelled near and far.

The first band were a 5-piece band, Xander and the Peace Pirates, with an authentic sound and look, and although they had the unenviable slot of 5.30pm had the small (at this point) crowd purring with delight. Speaking to their manager Ross I established that the band originated in Liverpool and were started by guitarist and singer brothers Keith and Stu and at this stage (having been together as a band for only 5 years) were not doing tours but focusing on attending festivals throughout the UK. The band reminded me of Gary Moore or Whitesnake but with a great bluesy riff that permutated throughout. The band told me that their music was influenced by the likes of Stevie Ray (V), Johnny Long and Prince. Their debut CD 11/11 was flying off the merchandise stand to the queues of punters who fought to buy every copy available. I am sure this band will be one to watch in the future – a very enjoyable start to the event!

The next band Bad Touch, although with a different look, had a similar presence on stage with authentic gear, gorgeous hair and sheer attitude. The band exploded on stage with their loud opener of “My mother told me” and moved to melodic songs – “Take your time” and “I love you” and an encore “Mountain” whose Whitesnake type rhythm and vocals had the crowd shouting for more. The Norfolk band have been together for 6 years or so and are surely set for stardom and their songs will be as famous as those set by the bands that they emulate. The band told me that their influences were of course the stable bands –  the Stones and Led Zeppelin but also ‘Little Angels’ and ‘The Black Crowes’. Again for the high numbers buying Bad Touch t- shirts and their latest ‘Truth be told’ CD and EP ‘Half way home’ the band – who had been pals since sixth form and had a national tour running through November and December, this ‘raunchy Bad Company’ were sure to be seen in larger venues in the very near future!

By 7.45 the ‘big bloke from Scotland’ AKA Steve Nimmo and his two band bates Matt and Greg were pounding their BB King style gutsy blues to the ever-respondent crowd – who from the cheers ‘come on Stevie’ included some hardcore fans. Unlike the previous bands, Steve was a veteran on the music scene and had notched up over 20 years playing his gritty bluesy sound. His strong Scottish accent led to his songs – ‘Long time coming’, ’Coming back to you’, ‘Change’ and ‘A good day for love’ to have even more thrust and Johnny Lee Hooker vibes – the band went down a storm.

The night was getting better and better and it cannot be disputed that as Joanne Shaw Taylor played on stage the event went up another level. As a person Joanne is rather unassuming dressed all in black with long blond hair (that is flung from shoulder to shoulder as she plays her guitars) but her skill and expertise to both sing and play is a sight to behold. For a girl of 31 from Birmingham she has both the power to play as good as Stevie Ray Vaughn and sing as well as Aretha Franklin. Her set of songs from her albums and new release ‘Wild’ had the audience on their feet. As I closed my eyes to ‘tune into’ this amazing talent I heard both Janice Joplin and Adele melting into her lyrics as she sang ‘Down the road’, ‘Nothing to lose’ ‘No reason to stay’ and the brilliant ‘Turns to dust’. The band and Joanne were absolutely amazing and talent very rarely seen anywhere in the world – never mind in such an informal venue as this hall in Warrington. Giving the crowd an encore the band left them (and me!) all feeling that her 90-minute set had been for only 10 minutes – a great talent. The evening was a huge success – a great blend of music, talent and enjoyment. Strong voices, great sounds and an atmosphere to compete with any major UK festival this summer!

A great night!

Rating: 5/5

For other shows at the Parr Hall in Warrington visit www.pyramidparrhall.com or call the box office on 01925 442884.

Pyramid & Parr Hall, Cultural Quarter, Palmyra Square South, Warrington, WA1 1BL

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