Blues In Britain Magazine, Issue 200, Aug 2018, Live Gig Review, Bullfrog Blues Club, Southsea
The popular South coast ensemble drew an impressive near-capacity crowd: despite Zoe having caught a cold (from her down-from-university son of all people!) and thus having the upper edge taken from her high-octane vocal, she still managed to deliver a powerful performance in the best showbiz tradition.
With husband Rob Koral on superlative, classy guitar, and a stellar rhythm section of Pete Whittaker, Hammond organ and Paul Robinson, drums, we were treated to a high-emery evening of jazz-tinged blues. With all-original material drawn mainly from their last two releases 'This Is The Life I Choose' and 'The Blues And I Should have a Party', it was a very pleasant change to enjoy the creative out-put of such a talented quartet without any derivative cover. Very different (and frankly much improved) from when I saw them last with an extrovert and very idiosyncratic harp player.
'I'll Do Anything' featured lovely rolling keys with a percussive rhythm, and an early highlight was 'You've Changed' from the latest CD, with an excellent poignant lyric on a failed relation-ship. The band let rip on this one with Rob's fast fluent fret work which was an impressive feature throughout. An uptempo 'Tell me' followed with a bass backing track* being utilised, casing some head-scratching before we wired it out! (*NOTE FROM ZOE... THERE ARE NO BACKING TRACKS... BASS LINES ARE PETE'S GENIUS). Great appreciation too from the partisan crowd all the way through, with whistles and applause especially for the superb instrumentation on offer. Another highlight was a biographical lyric from Zoe on being advised to stay away from the music scene by her school teacher: not quite that blues is the Divil's music but the UK equivalent I suppose! The proficiency of the musicianship was really top notch all night and a twelve-bar 'Don't Worry Blues' was no exception, with impressive vocal power and BB King-on-acid guitar riffs. 'Way Down In The Caves' (with a lyric by Pete Feenstra) was really stinking, employing a remorseless driving rhythm with our chanteuse's full-throttle lower register vocal, and some fine work on the drums and sizzling guitar work low on the frets.
The second set saw the band re-energised and the latest release's title track was a splendid showpiece. Another highlight was a rather funky 'My Handsome Man'. The enthused crowd were foot-tapping throughout and made their appreciation obvious at regular intervals, which was ample reward for the not-obviously-stricken vocal efforts which certainly did not spoil the night's enjoyment. A long term fan of the band commented that he had not seen Rob "rock out" like that before possibly intending to cover any perceived shortfall vocally, but the approach certainly worked for me and the rest of the audience judging by their vociferous reception.
- Words by: Bob Chaffey