Saturday, November 19, 2016

Laurence Jones - The Caves, Edinburgh, 17 November 2016

A hundred and eighty gigs so far this year hasn’t dimmed the enthusiasm of Laurence Jones and his band.  Which is just as well, because that enthusiasm is infectious, and does a lot to sustain their set.
Launching into action with ‘Got No Place To Go’, they immediately demonstrate one of their strengths, with a chunky, funky riff that folds in Roger Inniss’s bass and makes clear early on that drummer Phil Wilson is now well and truly in the groove since joining a year or so ago.  They keep up the good work with ‘Can’t Keep Living Like This’, which features some interestingly twangy guitar in the verse, a huge riff in the bridge, and a Hendrixy solo from Jones.
"I've told you Rog, you can have a bass solo in a minute!"
Jones is a technically impressive guitarist, and he makes good use of effects to add variety to his sound, as on the offbeat, twitchy ‘Something’s Changed’.  He’s also capable of mining a fruitful seam of funk – and why wouldn’t he, when he has the not-so-secret weapon of Roger Inniss and his six-string bass at his disposal? His latest album Take Me High hinted at him going further in this direction, but it’s less in evidence than I expected, which is a pity.
They add a shot of reggae to ‘Something’s Changed’ though, morphing it into ‘I Shot The Sherriff’ as a prelude to more echoes of Clapton with ‘Cocaine’.  ‘Thunder In The Sky’ offers a slow blues epic, which shows off a good sense of space, and also demonstrates that Jones’s voice has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years.
There are a couple of good hooks too, on ‘I Will’ and ‘Live It Up’, the latter featuring another novel, squelchy guitar effect.  ‘Addicted To Your Love’ is a slow grind with some howling guitar, and ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ closes the loop with another chunky riff.
I like Laurence Jones and his band, but four albums in it’s time for him to make a big stride forward.  He needs to push beyond the prosaic lyrics evident in a lot of his songs, really connect with things emotionally, and bring that out in his playing.  Strangely, his set omits
Johnny Boos does some finger pickin'
tracks that have that resonance about them, such as the struggle of ‘Down & Blue’ – which I’m sure has personal connotations – or the humour of ‘Stop Moving The House’.  But they encore strongly with the R’n’B of ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’, with it’s mic-less singalong, and I like ‘em.  I’d just like to see what Laurence and co can really do.
Full credit to support band GT’s Boos Band for trying to come up with material that doesn’t plough a predictable furrow.  The punchy opener ‘Seven Questions’ is followed up by the imaginative ‘High N Dry’, with its tempo changes and shimmering passages.  They get well and truly ambitious with the epic feel of ‘Amsterdam’, which has an interesting up tempo segment and atmospheric guitar from Johnny Boos, but begs the question whether the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  A more coherent attempt at doing something adventurous is the set closer ‘What I’m Wishing’, with a powerful closing solo from Boos.  In between, ‘Letham City Blues’ is gutsy, and ‘Real Born Winner’ dishes up some bright rhythm and blues.  I look forward to seeing them add greater consistency to the variety.

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