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Never felt more like singing the blues at Maltings, St Albans

PUBLISHED: 08:56 09 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

I DEFY anyone to suffer from the blues with northern band The Stumble on the bill. I saw them on Saturday night at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans. This was the first blues band to be put on by Little Walters Blues Club, which took over from Shades

I DEFY anyone to suffer from the blues with northern band The Stumble on the bill. I saw them on Saturday night at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans.

This was the first blues band to be put on by Little Walters Blues Club, which took over from Shades of Blue and it was an excellent choice.

The Preston-based six piece feature mighty Paul Melville on vocals and this man can sing. The sweat was pouring off him but he continued to work the crowd in a masterly fashion.

He does not miss a trick, including getting people on stage for a comic bit of audience participation. All done in the best possible taste, there was no question of exploiting people.

The band I believe have worked together for at least 10 years - and it shows in the tightness of their playing. They are not full-time professionals which could explain the freshness and enthusiasm of their performances. No jaded jobsworths here!

The audience lapped up their interesting blend of classic and original material and they mixed up moods to suit whether people were up and dancing or in a mellower listening mode.

Saxophonist Simon Anthony was not only a superlative player but excellent eye candy too, according to the smitten female members of the audience. I liked his natty black and white shoes and my friend's heart beat a little faster when he sat next to her during his walkabout routine.

Guitarist Colin Black was simply brilliant but a bit lacklustre on the sartorial front. He looked more like a country and western singer the way he was dressed instead of a mean and moody blues player. I don't understand why musicians don't dress for the stage - we, the audience, appreciate with our eyes as well as our ears.

Jonny Spencer - widely acknowledged as a super slide guitarist - was ably abetted by the powerhouse rhythm section of Boyd Tonner on drums and Dave Heath on bass.

I am slightly puzzled as to why more of the audience didn't get up and dance but I suspect it was due to the way the tables and chairs at the front were positioned too close to the stage, not leaving room for movement.

Songs featured on their two CDs - on sale in the foyer - included the great B.B. King number All Over Again given a splendid 11 minute treatment.

I know music promoter Mick Hammersley and his chum Jeff Atkins were delighted with the way the evening went and I wish them more power to their elbow with future blues evenings.

MARY BROSNAN

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