Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sari Schorr - Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, 9 March 2018

She’s an old pro is Sari Schorr.  In the nicest possible way, of course.
It’s the first time I’ve seen her live, and first impressions are exactly as I expected - an old-fashioned rock chick of the classiest kind. Coming on like a throwback to the early Seventies, she’s got presence, a Cheshire Cat grin, and a Masters degree in Hair Tossing.  Okay, some of her chat is cheesy enough to be grilled on toast, but I’ll forgive her that in the context of a crackling performance like this.
Sari Schorr gets all dramatic
It helps when you’ve got a Premier League band behind you, of course.  I’ve not come across drummer Roy Martin before, but he slots in well alongside guitarist Ash Wilson, Mat Beable on bass, and Bob Fridzema on keys, and collectively they cook up a deliciously chunky sound on opener ‘Revolution’, and follow it up with a rolling groove on ‘Damn The Reason’, a strong song with impressive dynamics and a subtle keyboard undertow from Fridzema, before getting funky on ‘Cat And Mouse’.  They may have been newly put together this year, but these guys are locked in from the start.
Schorr’s default vocal style is strident blues rocking, with buckets of controlled power.  But she can get breathy and slinky too, most notably on ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ and ‘Kiss Me’ – the former delivered in a style redolent of an Ike and Tina bump’n’grind.  She can certainly sell a song, most dramatically on her ferocious, ink-dark take on ‘Black Betty’.  She may talk up her dread of what the song demands, but the performance has a ton more weight than on album, and gets to the suffering that Lead Belly and his predecessors conveyed with the song.
In a different vein, she displays vulnerability on her Bette Midler-esque ballad ‘Ordinary Life’, with nicely halting piano from Fridzema.  After which, with no ceremony whatsoever, a familiar rat-a-tink-tink intro from drummer Roy Martin sends them plunging into a clatteringly good take on Zep’s ‘Rock and Roll’ that has the Edinburgh Blues Club patrons bouncing – while Schorr nails the vocal so well that she defies any invidious comparisons with Percy Plant.
If Ike and Tina Turner came from Skegness and Brooklyn . . .
Other highlights include ‘Demolition Man’, one of my favourites from A Force Of Nature, on which Bob Fridzema yanks out a gut busting Hammond solo, bracketed by two blistering spots from Ash Wilson.  Wilson may be the gurning-est guitarist you’re likely to see this side of Robin Trower, but he is also very, very good – and Schorr vacates the stage to let him sing ‘Peace And Love’, from his own album Broken Machine, just to prove the point.  With its hints of Queen Of The Stone Age it adds another twist to a varied but coherent set.
Two other songs trail the new album due in September.  Bad Company’s ‘Ready For Love’ is a good choice of cover, a neat fit for their style but not something bleedin’ obvious.  But new original ‘Maybe I’m Fooling’ also resonates with the audience right away, a reminder that Schorr isn’t just a top drawer singer, she comes up with consistently good material too.
They encore with the powerful ‘Aunt Hazel’, capping off an evening that fairly sprints by.  Time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s noticeable that Schorr and her buddies enjoy themselves along with the audience.  As they should, when they’re delivering a performance as relaxed but turn-on-a-dime tight as this.  They’re going to be on the road plenty this year – catch ‘em when you can.

Sari Schorr is touring France, Germany and Britain till May.  Details here

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