Blues fans were in for a night of musical duelling when the critically-acclaimed Matt Schofield Band returned to the Bore Street venue and were joined on stage by a very special guest.
The trio of Schofield on guitar and vocals, keyboard player Johnny Henderson and drummer Jamie Little, ploughed the furrows of blues, rock, funk and jazz which showed how they had developed while staying close to their blues funk roots.
Schofield is recognised as one of the country’s finest blues guitarists, a talent which will soon see him supporting guitar hero Joe Satriani.
The set list came from all points of a colourful career, and although his style is related to such luminaries as Jimi Hendrix, Steve Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, his playing also contained nods to the octave driven style of Wes Montgomery and the melodic soul of Curtis Mayfield.
All three players were on form, with Henderson’s keyboard playing providing roughly a third of the solos and his B3 Hammond Organ also filled in the bass lines, while Little’s playing was sensitive and sympathetic when it needed to be, but also drove the songs along.
The set started with the hard driving sounds of Coming Home To You and Hand in the Cookie Jar, which both took on far longer forms than their studio recordings.
The New Orleans-style Life Line was a swinging blues number, which allowed for some fine keyboard playing, before the blues rock of Ear to the Ground and a lowering of the energy level for See Me Through.
The pace was lifted for the second half with the swing funk of Shipwrecked Baby opening the set, even including a snippet of Jimi Hendrix’s Third Stone From The Sun in its solo, while the long form Where Do I Have To Stand? was a protest song with a strong back beat.
The trio were joined on stage by another young lion from the British blues scene, when the guitarist Aynsley Lister joined in for two songs, the blues/funk sounds of I Don’t Know What I’d Do If I Wasn’t Loving You and the New Orleans funk of Black Cat Bone. The guitar playing was nothing short of incendiary, with the players trading licks and ideas, and even some impressive unison ideas over strong support from the keyboards and drums.
An encore of the slow blues song Once in a While returned the stage to Schofield and his band and showed that restraint is as important in music as a show of technique can be.