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Blues In Britain Issue 129 September 2012

LIVE REVIEW Boogaloo Blues and Boogie, Farnham Maltings 19.6.2012

They had played for Boogaloo as ‘The Baddest Blues Band’ but on this occasion they were ‘The Commotion’, with lead singer Zoe clearly upfront. Quite right, too, as Zoe proved throughout the show to be a vocalist of rare talent and allied to an excellent band of seasoned musicians it proved a superb evening of live music. There was a good crowd for the last gig of the season at The Maltings, no doubt encouraged by the strong reviews that their album has recently received.

The six-piece band is led by Rob Koral on guitar, who, with Zoe, writes all their original material. They are ably supported by Rod Teague on bass, Paul Robinson on drums and Simon Genaro on harp, backing vocals and much madness and mayhem! Visually much of the attention is focussed on Simon who kept up a barrage of dance moves, facial expressions and between songs repartee, but always ensured that he was on cue for his harp and vocal parts.

They opened with a relaxed take on Muddy’s ‘I’m Ready’ with solos for all three front line instruments. Turning to material from their CD Good Times, they blended originals with an intriguing selection of covers. A good version of Koko Taylor’s ‘That’s Why I’m Crying’ preceded the highlight of the first set – a stunning version of Bobby Parker’s ‘Blues Get Off My Shoulder’ with wonderful vocals from Zoe and particularly emotive playing from Rob.

The First set overran, so the second set was of necessity shorter in order to meet the 11.00 curfew. However, the band still had time to provide a real feature number for Simon who not only played harp but also rapped on a version of ‘Buck’, a song written by Andy Stroud, Nina Simon’s second husband. By coincidence, drummer Paul Robinson had backed Nina Simone for many years and Andy Stroud had recently died, so the band had a number of reasons to play the tune. Realising that time was short the band played two more cuts from the album, ‘The Beatitudes’ uses words from the Gospel over some stirring playing, especially from Rob on guitar. Final number ‘ Too Darn Rich to Be Happy’ was an up-tempo finish which left the audience with a spring in our steps as we departed.

words by: John Mitchell