Review: Laurence Jones and Heidi Browne at the Lichfield Guildhall

Two young bands from two disparate genres showcased their talents for an appreciative audience when Heidi Browne and the award-winning blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Laurence Jones appeared at Lichfield Guildhall.

First on the bill was singer-songwriter Heidi, who’s melodic, keening vocals, sharp lyricism and catchy guitar-playing kept the audience entertained, as she fluently tackled a number of genres from blues, to jazz and country.

After winning the open mic competition and releasing a number of critically-acclaimed songs she will be an act to look out for in the future.

As part of an international tour, Laurence Jones and his band had flown in from Norway on the morning of the gig. Still only in his mid-twenties, he bought his new band to play.

Laurence Jones

Laurence Jones

With Jones on guitars and vocals, the rest of the ensemble was Bennett Holland on keyboards and backing vocals, bassist Greg Smith and drummer Phil Wilson. They played a number of songs from the recent album Take Me High which has received a number of plaudits from the critics, while older originals and cover songs also featured in a set that ran the gamut from slow burning blues songs, to rock, funk and jazz.

The addition of keyboards has helped to broaden the ensemble’s sound, while also allowing an extra soloist into the group. The blues funk of What’s It Gonna Be? and Touch Your Moonlight got the gig of to a roaring start, before the slow-burning intensity of Thunder in the Sky, with its long held notes, expert blues phrasing, and changes of pace and style, showed why Laurence Jones is so highly acclaimed as a guitarist.

The Motown rhythm of Live It Up showed another side to the band’s style, as did the reggae of Something’s Changed. Two covers, – Good Morning Blues and JJ Cale’s Cocaine – were well received by the audience, while new song Never Good Enough was another showcase for the maturity of the band’s sound, and Jones’ ever evolving vocal sound.

Old favourite Stop Moving the House, with it’s Stevie Ray Vaughan-flavoured guitar work and good time dynamic, closed the gig, but the inevitable encore of Everyday I Have The Blues – a staple in the blues rock canon – had a swinging groove, an acapella section, some fiery guitar and keyboard playing, and provided an incendiary ending to a musical evening that had already provided enough sonic fireworks.

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