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Live Review:

Kris Dollimore + David Bristow

'Shades of Blues' The Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans - 2nd Feb 2008.

Review Peter Johnston, Photos Graham Reader

One Man Band? Just how many people does it take to make great entertainment? Judging by Saturday’s Shades of Blues concert at the Maltings, St Albans, the answer is one. Shades of Blues is aptly named, covering all types of blues and this was evident with two very different performers, the common denominator being that each was a one man show. Banish those ideas of buskers on the tube – both performers were stunningly accomplished.

David Bristow kicked off the show with what he called blues from the Stratford Delta.  Playing an Ibanez semi acoustic he quickly created the smoky atmosphere of a 1920s southern states speakeasy, with a mixture of well chosen covers and his own compositions. Some of these were tongue in cheek, such as “She’s an easy going mama, but she don’t go easy on me” and he managed to cover the depth of British emotions while still keeping the slow tapping rhythm of Delta Blues. David claims a strong link with St Albans, having spent a lot of his formative years with his grandmother in Everlasting lane. His selection of covers was eclectic, with a blues number called Pallet on the Floor dating all the way back to 1894, alongside numbers such as Down and Out, made famous by Bessie Smith and Need Your Love So Bad, popularised by Peter Green. He added his own feeling to each and his timing was absolutely solid throughout - spellbinding.

With a warm-up act like that you’d be forgiven for feeling things couldn’t improve for the second half, but from the first note of Kris Dollimore’s performance it was obvious that more treats were in store. Kris has a wealth of experience to draw on as a member of bands such as Del Amitri, The Damned, The Godfathers and an accomplished session guitarist for the likes of Adam Ant. Demonstrating his love for John Lee Hooker, he used all of his modern band skills and three different guitars to bring the blues alive, really showing how the blues underpins so many pop numbers as well as delivering a real foot tapping, sing along experience – indeed the girls were dancing in the foyer by the end. Kris explained that he wished he’d started doing this years ago as he could get away from mental drummers and moody singers and the money was his at the end of the night. Money well earned.

When our host, Shades of Blues founder Bob Ayre, came on at the end we thought it was to say thanks and good night but instead he called both men back on stage for an impromptu and totally unrehearsed duet, calling all of Kris Dollimore’s skills as a session man into play on a quite brilliant version of Sweet Home Chicago. All I can say is who needs a band?!

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