Review and photos by Rob Stanley
Contrary to popular belief I don’t enjoy writing a negative review, but sometimes it just can’t be helped and this is the case for tonight’s support act Northants based blues trio The Blue Road. First we’ll start off with the only positive point I have to make and that is that the guitar work from frontman Brian Cave was pretty damn good and on the slower numbers his voice coped quite well and carried the songs with real feeling, but he really seemed to struggle from all angles when the tempo was turned up a notch. After that its downhill all the way I’m afraid. Drummer Stewart Manley set himself into a fixed rhythm at the start of the set and seemed to carry it on for the next 45mins without any variation, whilst Andy Partridge on bass played a completely different rhythm for the whole set. The final result can only be described as a bit of a shambles. Try opening three different web browsers, selecting three different songs on YouTube and pressing play at the same time and you’ll have a good idea of where I am coming from.
Way back in 1990 The Producers took their first tentative steps into the blues arena and over a 12 year period enjoyed quite a bit of success and recognition from their peers until they decided to call it a day in 2002 which, in my opinion, was a great loss for the UK blues scene at the time. But now after a 10 year hiatus they are back and trying to regain their former glory. The Producers were originally due to play the Robin 2 last year, but due to poor advance ticket sales the gig was cancelled and rescheduled and looking at the extremely poor turnout for tonight’s gig it was probably a borderline decision not to cancel also.
But we are here for their first gig of 2013 and apart from a couple of wry comments from Harry regarding the lacklustre turnout you would never have known from the lads’ performance that they were playing to a near empty venue. Vocals and guitar mastery provided by front man Harry Skinner were inspirational to say the least. He has one of those voices that reaches deep into the pit of your soul and tickles all the good bits. From the guitar point of view, nothing is overstated. A note is played only because it is required and held just long enough to make the required statement. None of that fretboard ‘look at how good I am’ Malthusianism here that so many other guitarists have the habit of doing these days, just pure simple genius. Dave Saunders on bass is also perfectly in tune with everything happening on stage, he underpins and drives the performance along perfectly, be it; blues, rock or roots based with the aid of drummer Biff Smith.
Now I’ve got to be honest and admit that I’m not the world’s greatest keyboard fan and given the choice would sooner hear the good old blues harp any day of the week, but there is always one exception to the rule and keyboard player Ray Dury is that exception and although I may not be fully converted I can embrace wholeheartedly his quite brilliant performance.
As gigs go this was quite spectacular, one of the strongest and tightest performances that I can recall seeing in a long long time. If this gig had happened last year as planned would easily have made it into my top 3 gigs of 2012. Such a bloody shame that there were so few people to enjoy it with me.
And you can see more shots from the show by clicking here or pressing play below: