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The Bullfrog Blues Club
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24 Pesos
Bullfrog Blues Dockyard Club Southsea - July 2nd 2015

It is nearly four years since I last saw the band and their evident evolution over that period is very impressive.

Virtuoso Julian Burdock on guitar, dobro, harp and lead vocals is very much the focal point and he is ably assisted by Silas Maitland, bass, Moz Gamble, superb on keys, and Bryan McLellan's marvellously empathetic drumming.

A lengthy work out on an up tempo shuffle 'She's My Baby' gave Moz and Julian chance to flex their chops before a dynamic and vibrant guitar solo on the second number saw the band join in before a technical glitch with the bass amp fan. On an exceedingly warm night and with efforts continuing on getting all the fans in the room to function, Julian forged ahead in true show business fashion with a fiery solo outing on 'Worried Life Blues' with splendid work on dobro slide and harp.

Back on track, 'Rise Up' from latest release 'Do The Right Thing' saw Julian continue on lap steel before 'Give Me Some Love', a slow Blues from their debut release 'Boogie Worm' with more compelling guitar work, growling keys and a clever ending complete with violin tone on guitar.

The band still have that jazz tinged funky edge to their sound but the underlying Bluesy vibe is stronger. The lack of superfluous ornamental frills and the sheer breadth and quality of their musicianship makes a far more cogent impact and more effective showcase for their talents. Moz then took time out to deliver his sales pitch for their four albums, each engendering various trials and tribulations not to mention divorce!

'A Girl Like You' then saw Julian on walkabout with an unamplified vocal and the plummy rich toned dobro before some nice harmony vocals with "the only girl I want is a girl like you, so please don't tell me you are a man!" risking a troll outbreak from the LGBT lobby.

A trio of numbers from their 'Broken Busted And Blue' release launched the second set. 'Waiting At The Station' featuring superb cigar box guitar and some expressive train Blues harp led out before a funky 'Never Saw The Devil' preceded a ballad like 'Day Becomes Night' with scintillating guitar from fast hands to pin drop, underpinned by pulsing bass lines and hands on percussion.

'Boom Boom' a Blues shuffle in SRV style was the cerebral band's next offering before a 'Funky Cigar Box In A', which to date they have not recorded, leading out with a 'Crossroads' lyric with first guitar then drums and keys joining in unison before a finale apparently drawn from Depeche Mode (I have to take their word for that).

A real tour de force though with an almost evangelistic appeal. A rootsy Americana style 'Need Somebody' led to the new CDs title track bringing the set to a rousing end.

The encore demanded by the noisily appreciative crowd, 'Make A Man' was a typically tight and funky Blues shuffle with a compelling jazz tinged groove embellished with whirling keys and a stonking guitar riff. Plenty of light and shade with well honed, varied and thoughtful orchestration drawing the listener in and not leaving you on the outside admiring the artistry as a detached bystander.

Bob Chaffey

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