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'London, Tolpuddle St, The Islington, 31 May 2018'   

-  Genre: 'Blues'

Our Rating:
This show is part of this year's Future Juke festival of new blues and blues-inspired acts and my being a typical poncey reviewer I managed to show up a little bit late as my Acupuncture session ran over. That meant I had a heat bandage on my shoulder that once I got into the oven that is the gig room at the Islington actually started to palpitate along with the music.

I may have missed the first couple of songs Mudlow playe. The first one I heard in full was introduced by gravel-voiced vocalist Tobias as being about the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a supercharged dark and feral blues song with some really great guitar.

Live they really do sound full on and the interplay between Tobias and Pauly on bass was great to clock as they played deceptively simple blues licks while creating a whirlpool of sounds around them. The amount of fretwork both of them were undertaking was really impressive as they sang about whatever happened to Paulina.

They were totally on fire with growled introductions and the pounding drums making sure the (far sparser than it should have been) crowd were more than happy they didn't Stay at Home. They closed with the tour de force that is Mad Mary Lou with some stunning guitar work as the sorrowful tale of Mad Mary Lou unfolds. Mudlow really ought to be playing far bigger gigs than this one.

Next on where Husky Tones who are another drums and guitar male-female duo, whose drummer and singer Victoria Bourne plays standing up like Moe Tucker, only with a better singing voice and sadly no use of mallets.

They opened with an impassioned quest to find out How I Feel. It was good and bluesy and had a good crunch to it. The next song about how only evil people fight wars was pretty powerful and Victoria was pretty full-throated while sounding a bit like Sulfur City.

Euphoria sounded, well, a little bit euphoric with a dazzling guitar solo in the middle from Chris Harper. The centre-piece of the set, though, was the song they dedicated to the DWP, Who Will I Turn To. It was full of bile and anger at what it's like to deal with the idiocy of the labyrinth of a system we have to claim a few benefits.

That was followed by the equally angry I Don't Give A Damn Anymore, which felt like a re-working of Yo Ma Ma's Don't Fuck With Me which is of course about as obscure a reference point as any I come up with!! When they went a bit English folk blues on What's the Time, John Ball? The more strained and angry the vocals became the more they started to remind me of Kat Bjelland's short lived band Crunt - well at least the songs Kat sang.

They closed with what I have down as Give Me A Reason: another full-throated belter of a song with some nifty guitar and full on drumming. A cool set and another band from Bristol worth checking out.

After the break and having positioned myself in front of the fan so it was merely Sauna like rather than being in a deep fat fryer, Aidan Connell came on looking like a high plains drifter sans the cheroot and he got his band firing on all cylinders with some cool Bass sax stabs in the opening number.

Standing In the Shadows seemed to epitomise what most of the audience were doing as the band really amped it up and started to sound very 70's blues rock. Still they were in no way stodgy and I Hate Rock 'n' Roll really got everyone going with some great guitar duelling between Aidan and the other guitarist who can also be seen pulling pints at the Good Mixer over the weekend.

Bamako Blues was a little bit softer and more reflective than most of the set, but they amped things back up on the Great Deceiver and seemed to get a few couple dancing real close on Set Me Free - or whatever it was called.

I really liked the blues rumble they had going on for the song about starting a rock & roll band. That one also sounded a bit like The Numbers Band only with less brass. They closed a cool set with a great version of Son Of A Gun that was full of great blues licks and with a cool southern soul tinge to leave everyone happy and wanting more, though perhaps wanting more somewhere cooler than The Islington's hothouse of a gig room.
  author: simonovitch

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