Shades of Blues
Promoting ALL shades of Blues
Heavy on the blues
23 August 2007
EARTHY bluesman Marcus Malone is a macho figure making a big noise – which is great if that’s your bag.
St Albans blues club, Shades of Blue, is now expanding to run monthly and the visit of the heavy rock-based blues band from Detroit on Thursday night was its first gig at The Horn in Victoria Street, St Albans.
Although the audience was thin on the ground for the performance, their sheer enthusiasm made up for the lack of numbers. This was mainly due to the force of nature that is The Marcus Malone Band.
When main man Marcus came on stage and clocked the dearth of punters he immediately made a joke of it which cleared the air and he and his band proceeded to rock up a party atmosphere.
Marcus commented near the end of the first half that he and the band would be back shortly to “make a big noise which is what we do best”. Corrrrrect. Right on the money, Marcus. The band plays only Malone’s original material which is a shame. His lyrics didn’t seem to matter to most of the punters but if you love words you perhaps would not be bowled over by Malone, despite his affability and tremendous stage presence.
The man can sing. He has an extraordinary voice with a sunny nature which drew his audience in immediately with his brand of powerful, in-your-face, good-time blues.
Most of the predominantly-male audience loved him, crass lyrics and all – Double D Delight had to take the biscuit for one of the most puerile numbers I have heard in a long, long time.
For me it lacked finesse, sensitivity and had all the charm of a bull in a china shop. But he gave the people what they wanted and he certainly exuded warmth, friendliness and charisma.
Marcus shared lead guitar duties with Stuart Dixon who knows how to rock a room and the powerhouse rhythm section was second to none. The harmonica player lifted the hard-edged sound onto a higher plane.
I hope Bob Ayres makes a success of this new venture and going by the audience reaction, there is a demand for the more raucous end of the blues market which can be met at The Horn. He has obviously been astute enough to gauge that The Maltings Arts Theatre crowd prefer a more subtle brand of blues like the recent Daniel Smith Blues Band who blew everyone away.
Shades of Blue will now alternate monthly between The Horn and the Maltings Arts Theatre.
Next Shades of Blue gig at The Horn is October 18 when flamboyant Eric Clapton favourite Carvin Jones will play there, supported by Bedford boys The Ben Poole Band.