This was my first visit to this venue in about 17 years or more. Since the last time I went there to see (I think) My Drug Hell, back when it was called the Orange Club and after it stopped being Fox Four Two, it has changed its name 3 or 4 times if not more. It even spent some time as a lap dancing club before being taken over by Vince Power, the legend behind the Mean Fiddler venues.
This can only be a good thing, especially as North End Road really needs to have at least one music venue and as they have turned the Seven Stars into flats and the Nashville Rooms are long gone this decent sized room above a Sainsbury's local needed to become a live venue again.
I arrived just as Du Bellows were about to begin the opening set. They are a Blues-rock Americana fusion band with a bit of a prog edge to them and they also have a certain Mr Jimmy Page as their number one fan!
From the start it's clear that frontwoman Jade Williams was giving it her all in a gruff blues belter style as she implored us to Leave It To Fate while band around her whipped up a bluesy storm. I tried to remember who I last saw the Drummer David Wilkinson playing with and I still have no idea other than I think it was at The Garage.
At the end of the first song I went and took a seat right up front, which meant the vocals seemed to be mixed lower than the guitars which until Jade explained she was unwell didn't make total sense. Still as she sang about the Other Side and the lead guitarist Darley Mylan started to do some very cool stuff, that started to attract my attention far more than the vocals.
Children of the Birds was next and had some rather proggy noodling in among the Americana sounds. It was cool and interesting but while I'm sure I should be raving about the vocals it was all about the guitars and drums for me. Paper Soles sounded pretty cool and had some very cool guitar parts between Darley Marlan and TJ Shipton.
High spot of their set for me was Luminaire: a long, bluesy jazz fusion workout that built and fell a few times and had some really impassioned vocals. It was way cool. They closed with Red Roads Morning featuring some more very cool guitar bits from Darley. They are cool and worth seeing and I'm sure if Jade's voice is in full effect they could be quite something.
Before Garland Jeffreys and his band could come on, he had to pose and have photos with Jimmy Page. Well why wouldn't you? Then this New York legend came onto the stage and opened with Coney Island Winter. Damn, his voice is in fine shape and what a band he had with him. Mark Bosch's guitar playing was stellar from the get-go.
35 Millimetre Dreams really lit the place up and Garland was running about the place and at one point stood on a chair right in front of me. This was really cool and very rock & roll. I'm Alive saw the grin on drummer Tom Curiano's face grow a good bit. He looked like he was having a blast, now who did I last see him and Keyboard player Charly Roth playing with? Erm...
Any Rain had some cool guitar bits that almost sounded like the rain pattering on the windows. It was very evocative and the joy coming from Garland was very uplifting. I May Not Be Your Kind was the first song to have a real reggae feel in the set and the band broke it down nice and low for the dub parts with Brian Stanley's bass notes just keeping the riddim going nicely while the band played around it.
They then did a song with some great lyrics about James Brown's Cape. Not sure what the song's called but damn what a tune and what guitar wizardry from Mark Bosch. Garland then told us a bit about meeting Lou Reed when he went to Syracuse university in 1961 before they did a great reggae version of Mystery Kids that took us on a nice trip back to the New York of old.
Modern Loverssss with the extra S's emphasized by Garland had a real cool, laid back feel to it and Garland also told us he had been happily married for (I think he said) 34 years. They then closed with Ghost Writer: a song that has some very witty and cool lyrics and has some hints back at the poetry of Delmore Schwartz as well as an astonishing guitar solo from Mr Bosch.
They left the stage to huge applause and were soon back for the encore that Garland started solo with a nice version of Sleepy Time. Of course we wanted the band back and up they came for a great song. I have no idea what it's called but it was very enjoyable. They closed with the classic 96 Tears a song that Garland long ago made his own and this was a very cool version and the ideal way to close a superb set.
Hard to believe he is in his 70's as he has so much energy. Needless to say, if Garland Jeffreys plays anywhere near you he is still entirely worth going to see.