Before the gig review I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the closure of arguably London’s best small venue. Anyone who is anyone has played this tiny stage. I have been there over seventy times and is still my most visited venue. Whilst the refurb a few backs ultimately made it a far more comfortable experience I can’t help think the character of the old place was lost. The removal of the photos at the entrance and the stairwell cataloguing everyone who had played there, coupled with the covering up of the iconic logo on the back wall seemed to whitewash (or blackwash in this instance) the history of the place. It will always have a special place in my heart and some of my most memorable gigs have happened on that stage ranging from Tony Joe White, many Chuck Prophet and Rockingbirds gigs through Ryan Bingham, Jason Isbell, Chris Whitely and Dawes to name a few. It’s a sad chapter to close for me and a nail in the coffin for small venues in London with this one another example succumbing to greedy landlords and councils. Quite what the night Czar of London Amy Lame is actually doing is beyond me.
Anyhoo onto the gig. The last time we saw this same band at The Borderline some old fans walked out moaning that it wasn’t the blues. This incarnation of AYH is an electric blues band which is very different from Alvin’s usual laid back acoustic blues style. Sadly for those ignorant people this is most definitely the blues.
Stylistically tonight though the tunes range from straight blues covers, gospel songs, country songs, some AYH originals plus a great cover of the Mike Campbell penned ‘I don’t wanna fight’ from Petty’s ‘Echo’ album. The switching of styles and the constant guitar changes takes a little away of the continuity of the show but what is clear is that Alvin is a phenomenal guitar player and vocalist and the rhythm section tonight provides the relentless back beat to really showcase his skills. When Alvin lets rip he really lets rip and the band rock the place to its foundations.
A new song is showcased also tonight so hopefully there is a chance of a new record as it’s been nearly 15 years since the last one with Alvin’s name on it. It’s a fine way to end my relationship with The Borderline with one of the blues greatest contemporary exponents.
Till the next time keep on blues rockin y’all