A capacity audience enjoyed an action-packed show when Elles Bailey made her Lichfield Guildhall debut.
Support for the evening was provided by the talented singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso Sunjay.
His set took in blues finger-picking, foot-stomping rhythms, his soulful baritone voice, and an easy on-stage manner and humour.
Much of the set was his compositions, with the bluesy opener Love You Like A Man, the rockier Faith Healer and Ghost Train, and set closer The London Road showing his gift for narrative storytelling and how to combine musical invention with modern technology to spell-binding effect.
With a talented band of bass player Matthew Waai, Hammond organ player Johnny Henderson, drummer Matthew jones and guitarist Joe Wilkins, Elles Bailey’s action-packed set took in genres that ranged from soul ballads, acoustic folk, funk, blues and rock, allowing her to show the full range and power of her vocals, and the band to show their musical pedigree.
Her long career and non-stop work ethic means that she is equally at home on the stage with her band as she is in the studio.
Playing one set, the concert started with the raucous Cheats and Liars and barely stopped to catch its breath.
The keening, low octave slide guitar of Joe Wilkins added a lot of drama to some of the songs, and the Hammond organ solos that peppered the set showed why Johnny Henderson is one of the busiest players on the live circuit.
As well as playing songs from her own releases, there was also time for an acoustic cover of I Remember Everything by the late, lamented John Prine, which allowed for the audience to enjoy the simplicity of the song, offered in a stark acoustic guitar and vocal arrangement.
Another cover picked up the pace, with a fine rendition of Wilson Picket’s Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You.
The Fleetwood Mac-like World Keeps Turning added some rock dynamics, while the gospel-infused Help Someone was a feel-good foot-stomping piece.
The slide guitar instrumental sections of Medicine Man and the rousing set closer Sunshine City showed that this is a band with a glowing history, but also much to look forward to in its future.