Clare Free. Pic: Rob Stanley

With a growing live reputation, and a few albums worth of strong material Claire Free and her well drilled band put on a sterling show, full of quality musicianship, and catchy songs when they played at the Guildhall.

Clare Free. Pic: Rob Stanley

Following her show stopping solo performance at this year’s Real Ale Jazz and Blues festival was no easy feat, but the strength of the material, and the band’s commitment carried away any doubts.

The set featured many songs from the ensemble’s latest release Dust and Bones as well as a number of well chosen covers. With a vocal style that takes from Janis Joplin, and any number of blues vocalists, and a guitar style that takes in many post-Hendrix players, as well as Freddie King, BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as styles such as slow, moody blues numbers, funk, rock, swing, jazz and psychedelic this was an action packed two hours.

With support from guitarist Matt Allen, Bassist Dave Evans and Drummer Pete Hedley, the band belied their youth with a display of musicianship that was more than a cut above the average, providing pin sharp musicianship and support, as well as being given the chance to show of their musical dexterity.

Starting with the title track from the latest release, with its moody intensity, the band changed gears with Believe in Me with its rock sound, the blues funk of She’s an Evil Woman or the covers of The Thrill is Gone or the high intensity set closer of Treat your Daughter Mean.

The second set started with a fine reading of Funky Mama’s Kitchen Blues and featured many songs from the latest release, such as Scars, Tempted, Little Miss Jealousy and the set closer of Creepy which took in the wide sonic ground that exists between Stevie Wonder’s Superstition and the improvised, psychedelia that was popular with Jazz Rock bands in the sixties and seventies.

An encore of Leave my Little Girl Alone and Pride and Joy was a fitting tip of the hat to one of the group’s obvious influences in Stevie Ray Vaughan, while The Blues is my Business showed that the future of the genre is in safe hands with this talented band.