Monday, December 9, 2019

Seth Rosenbloom - Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, 8 December 2019

After this opening show of Bostonian Seth Rosenbloom’s first ever trip to Britain, I bet he’s counting his blessings that he’s avoided the pitfall of the unsympathetic pick-up band.  Lancashire-based trio the Midnite Johnny Band know their stuff and then some, have clearly done their homework on Rosenbloom’s material, and provide more than just a solid platform for him to do his stuff.
Seth Rosenbloom gets down to business
Right from the opening ‘Keep On Turning’ the foursome produce a big, full sound, giving full rein to the first of some imaginative riffs, while Rosenbloom offers a clean and tuneful Bonamassa-like vocal, and turns out an all action solo that emerges as his frequent modus operandi.
The following ‘I Can’t Help It’ is equally chunky, a ‘Dust My Broom’-like 12 bar with an SRV feel, which is good rhythmically from all concerned, and confirms how tight they are.  Then the slow blues ‘Broke And Lonely’ finds Midnite Johnny contributing some shimmering backing on guitar while Rosenbloom produces an interestingly quiet and brittle-toned solo before progressing towards a howling closing segment.
And there’s enough going on in more upbeat songs to maintain the interest levels too.  A mid-tempo blues is underpinned by a twitching rhythm from drummer Paul Burgess (who has played with the likes of 10cc, Jethro Tull, and Chris Farlowe) and stuttering bass from Norm Helm, underlining the suppleness of their playing, to which Midnite Johnny adds an equally interesting solo before Rosenbloom gets his wail on in characteristic fashion.  He then throws some nice curve balls into his second solo on the “break-up song” ‘Right About Now’, over more subtle colourings from yer Midnight fella, before building to a well-worked strident finish.
Rosenbloom follows up on an appetising Johnny solo on Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s ‘I Don’t Believe’ with a tastefully bluesy offering of his own, capping off another SRV-like slice of straight ahead good time fun.  Then Rosenbloom steps back to let Midnite Johnny lead on his own song ‘Long Road Home’, a rollin’ an’ tumbling Mississipi stomp based on Johnny’s
Midnite Jonny slithers around on slide
slithering slide guitar, given variety dynamics and changes of pace, with Seth entering into the spirit of things on his own solo.
A rendition of Elmore James’ ‘Look Over Yonder Wall’ provides an opportunity for a subtle, varied Rosenbloom solo, going from quiet to full on over racing bass lines, en route to a nicely wonky ending.  Then he closes the set with a decent exploration of ‘Little Wing’, before they encore with an enjoyable gallop through Elmore James’ ‘Wild About You baby’, with crunking solos from both guitars.
Rosenbloom is a clean cut, affable young guy, with an equally clean cut voice that he could do with developing into more of a tool, to give focus to his songs.  His set is a bit guitar-centric for my taste, with a lot of high speed, accurate work at the bottom of the neck, but it has to be said that it was enjoyable fare, and a large chunk of the audience lapped it up.
Support band The Blind Lemon Gators are a more old-fashioned R&B proposition, led by
guitarist Ian Donald and singer Greig Taylor.  Opening with a cover of ‘She Talks To Angels’, they combat a rather intrusive snare drum sound with a growling vocal from Taylor and delicate slide from Donald to capture the song’s mood.
Greig Taylor insists he's keeping his coat on, right?
They’re good on lively material like ‘Seven Questions’ and the tightly energetic Mississipi groove of ‘City Of Gold’, on both of which Dave Ivans provides additional colour with injections of harp, though at times they could swing more.  But they also get slow and reflective on ‘A Little Death Around The Eyes’, a song about Taylor observing his children going through problems, with a suitably delicate melody.
Muddy Waters’ ‘Champagne And Reefer’ is a bit of a slow grind though, and I didn’t really go for their take on ‘Goodnight Irene’, which to these ears wandered too far from the haunting melody captured by Leadbelly.  But they get back on track with the bouncing shuffle of ‘Gravy Train’, and if their set close ‘Better Land’ doesn’t quite hit its gospel song target, it does feature some brooding, warped guitar from Donald.

Seth Rosenbloom plays the second of his UK dates at the Wrotham Arms in Broadstairs on 10 December.

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