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Review: 'Geraint Watkins and Niall Kelly'
'Live at The Troubadour, Earls Court.'   

-  Genre: 'Blues' -  Release Date: '25.11.19.'

Our Rating:
This was one of the shows that Geraint Watkins is playing to promote his latest solo album Rush of Blood that's been out for a few months now.

I got in just as Niall Kelly was about to start his opening set, he played as a duo with James Forster on electric guitar as well as Niall's acoustic and vocals, he opened by telling us that the first song would be how he plays the blues and it was really nicely played with both of them having some serious chops and getting into it.

Promenade really did feel like a strolling by the seaside blues shuffle before he tipped his hat at one of the musicians Geraint Watkins has played with who has also played The Troubadour a certain Bobby Dylan and they played a pretty good version of If you Gotta Go, Go Now that had a good few people singing along to it.

Love Light from Niall's most recent album was next and felt pretty heart felt with some intricate playing by James Forster to bring the emotions out. They closed with Lady Dancer that went down well like the rest of his set a very cool Irish blues duo from Balham.

After the break the Geraint Watkins band came on just about managing to fit the 5 of them onto the bijoux stage and with Geraint seated at his keyboards as he opened the set by himself singing Another Day Over the final song on the current album, like this it was very soulful and eventually there was a little clarinet from Martin Winning to accentuate Geraints playing.

Hold Back again began solo and then with a nod of the head the band gently came in making this a very soulful laid back version and yet as loose as they at times may have seemed they were also about as tight as you could ever want them to be.

With a good bit of banter between songs while they figured out what to play next, even though it was written on the setlist of course, as Geraint introduced his ukulele to us then On My Mind came in and just sounded very cool and also featured Geraint on his Ukelele that he boasted he even has a flight case for.

I Got the Blues sounded as heart felt as they could make it and the band just sounded great as they did all night with some really cool backing vocals too.

Heaven Only Knows was mainly played solo before Martin Winnings clarinet came in and some very softly brushed snare to help us get it.

On The Nside really got the band going and had some great sax in it before they went off setlist for the first time with a cool take on It's All Over that I think Geraint let the rest of the band start so he could have a sip or two of beer.

They then closed the first set with the albums title song and a quick ad for the merch table as intro to Rush Of Blood that really didn't feel rushed at all as Geraint switched languages with ease and sang a good bit of Quando to really get us all swaying along with them.

They took a long enough break for everyone to get another drink and it was good to see no one left early unlike the first time I saw Geraint in the Balham Alligators back in the 80's, but to be honest this show was not the sort of gig you'd ever dream of walking out of. The second set opened with Only A Rose from Dial W For Watkins that he played solo on his keyboards to help ease us back in.

They then played an instrumental Flamingo that to my ears seemed to have a good bit of Blue Moon of Kentucky woven into it. He then pleased almost everyone with a very laid-back version of Easy to Say Bon Temps Roulez or Bonton as the setlist has it and one hell of a mighty sax solo as well as making sure the good times rolled.

He then told Oliver Darling the guitarist it was time for him to stand front and center and sing a tune and they did Shine a Light complete with lots and lots of ooh la La's and Geraint giving signals for another chorus or two.

They then had some good banter that ended with Geraint insisting it was the right time to play I Wish It could Be Christmas Every Day mainly solo but with some very minimal bass and drums while the evenings special guest got ready.

With a good amount of joking about they got Bob Loveday to join them just offstage to Geraint's right on violin for Shine a Light that had lots of interplay between the violin and sax as they wove in and out and around Geraints keys that were going all churchy in places as he switched about the settings.

Honey Honey from Watkins Bold As Love was quite a serenade and had much joking around about the chairs that kept appearing and the fans who suddenly got to sit down that fed into a false start of Just Because that the band seemed to shake their heads not to do before they did Chagrin with some extra guitar as well as the violin it was probably the most rocking song of the night and at the end Bob Loveday took his bow and left.

Geraint introduced the next song as Bourgeoisie that was a good old blues song and he then asked for requests among which was one for the band introductions that included Malcolm Mills on Drums and Paul Riley On Bass before telling us that yes they would now carry on with the setlist and do Heroes And Villains and not God only Knows that Geraint was threatening to do, but they really went at Heroes And Villains and the more operatic elements of the music it was a wonderful way to end the set.

Of course they got an encore and closed with a good times fun take on Johnny B Goode with some great blasts of clarinet countering Geraint's keyboards it was as much fun as the rest of the show that left everyone smiling at just how cool this show was as they made sure we all knew that they are back at the Troubadour on December 8th for anyone in London it's a show well worth seeing.
  author: simonovitch

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