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Arlington Arts Centre, Live Review 24th March 2023, Newbury Weekly Times

"Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion were brilliant... Rob's riff laden guitar and Zoe’s incredible vocals combine beautifully to create an electric atmosphere."

One stompin’ night of blues ‘n’ boogie: THREE great sets of blues and blues rock made for a great night out and showcased the variety of the genre. Dom Pipkin opened proceedings with a solo set, accompanying himself brilliantly on keyboards. A hugely accomplished musician who unashamedly draws inspiration from New Orleans and the likes of Dr John The Night Tripper, Fats Domino and Percy Mayfield (the writer of Hit The Road Jack), Dom has worked with Morcheeba, Paloma Faith and David Byrne among others. I loved his version of the Bordello Jazz track The Perfect Rag and his own song Love Affair With New Orleans. He finished with a storming version of Cotton Fields, the Lead Belly classic. HIs recent album, C’mon Sunshine is well worth checking out. Next up was Stompin’ Dave (Allen), accompanied by Earl Jackson, who doubled-up as MC/compere. As Dave told me he has recently had an eye operation and had been warned against singing loudly and bright lights. Nonetheless he and Earl put on a fine display of intricate guitar duetting, which was entertaining and wide ranging stylistically, the English folk song Cuckoo’s Nest contrasted well with the American folk track Great Big Dog and the self-penned There’s Still Some Wonder was excellent. Zoe Schwarz and Blue Commotion were brilliant. Rob Koral’s riff laden guitar work and Zoe’s incredible vocals combine beautifully to create an electric atmosphere. I loved the rumba based If Only I Could Be With you, Angel Of Mercy and the powerful Liberated Woman. Their cover of the Jack Bruce / Cream song We’re Going Wrong was stunning. Rob Koral is a fan of early Eric Clapton, and it shows! The Self-penned I’ll Do Anything was great and gave Zoe’s vocal range a chance to show itself to its magnificent best. The two-and-a-half hour session ended with a full ensemble jam around Going Down Slow. If that isn’t great value for money, I don’t know what is.

words by: Brian Harrington
Gig: Arlington Arts, Newbury. A Night Of Blues 'n' Boogie - 3 great acts!