Review: Kaz Hawkins @ Lichfield Guildhall

Imagine if you can, Janis Joplin fronting Chic, and you have some idea of the level of imagination and musicianship that Kaz Hawkins and her band bought to bear when they appeared at Lichfield Guildhall as part of their first UK tour.

Playing songs from their recent, critically acclaimed release, Get Ready the group played a wide selection of their own songs, as well as a choice selection of covers. With a voice that was part Etta James, Janis Joplin, and part Bonnie Raitt, Kaz Hawkins lead the band through an explosive, but commercial mix of blues, rock and soul, and some disco rhythms thrown in for good measure.

Kaz Hawkins with her band

Kaz Hawkins with her band

Her three piece band of drummer Ross Hawkins, bassist Michael McKinney and lead guitarist Nick McConkey provided sympathetic backing that left plenty for the ears and feet to digest, providing funky, motown inspired riffs one moment, to heartrending ballad playing the next.

But the star of the show was Kaz Hawkins, leading the band, and the audience through the life that had inspired her work.

Believe with Me, a waltz time ballad, was a song about redemption and self belief, and I’m Mad, But I Love You looked at the trials that all relationships go through. Yhis was a melodic southern rock song with traces of the Allman Brothers. Drink with the Devil was a swing jazz number.

Vocally, the highlight of the first set was Born To Me Baby – a slow blues number, which showed of the highs of Hawkins’ voice and the pin sharp playing of the group.

A rare cover was thrown in with Nina Simone’s Feeling Good which robbed the song of it usual bombast and instead had a far more intimate treatment for this reading.

The second half packed in a lot more upbeat numbers, although it still left space for a heartfelt Lipstick and Cocaine which was a largely autobiographical song, while It Ain’t You was a stomping disco-flavoured piece which will hopefully become a live favourite.

This was a fine concert and hopefully the band will go onto reap the rewards that they so richly deserve.