Jack Bruce + Sam Lees Duo @ Birmingham Town Hall – 29th March 2012

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Review and Photos by Rich Ward

Whilst it was unfortunate to learn that the originally billed support of JJ Grey & Mofro were not able to make the tour, their replacement, the Sam Lees Duo, proved to be an entertaining one. Though their set was relatively short, it was fun to try and guess the more contemporary songs worked into the routine (I think I heard ‘Tainted Love’ at some point!). An accomplished gypsy jazz guitarist very much in the style of Django Reindhardt, Sam made quite the impact on this unsuspecting audience, managing to impress a substantial number of them to make healthy CD sales during the interval.

Sauntering casually onto stage alone – and to much applause – the former Cream bassist sat down at the keyboard to perform a solo version of ‘Can You Follow?’ before the rest of the band joined him. Though some of the songs felt unnecessarily drawn out and some of the slower numbers, with the addition of a brass section, coming dangerously close to lounge music (with one guy a couple of seats in front of me appearing to nod off for a while!), the show threatened to be a non-starter but tracks such as ‘Morning Story’ and ‘You Burned The Tables On Me’ rescued it. Fortunately, this did not last for long and things changed very quickly with ‘Theme From An Imaginary Western’ with Bruce back at the keys once again. The Cream classic, ‘Spoonful’, was warmly received, demonstrating that Bruce still retains a powerful voice, and ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ picked the pace up where the band sat for the remainder of the set. Featuring some exceptional talent in the form of Tony Remy on guitar – who put in an outstanding solo on ‘We’re Going Wrong’ – Frank Tontoh on drums and Paddy Milner on keys, by the time of set closers ‘White Room’ and ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, Bruce’s Big Blues Band ensured no one was left wanting. After half a century in the business, it is incredible to see someone deliver a set with such passion and enthusiasm. Jack Bruce shows no signs of slowing down, and we’d like to keep it that way.

And you can see more of Rich’s photos here: