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Review - Submitted to 'Blues in Britain' magazine , by Dave Kingsbury


New Tricks - Belle Vue, Nottingham 30/12/07

Recently-formed perhaps but this local blues and R&B covers band has already discovered how to get people on to the dance floor and keep them there.

Rob Johnson (lead vocals, guitar), Dave Stephenson (lead guitar), JJ Tombs (bass) and Pete Pearson (drums) have bags of experience between them and deliver a canny mix of well-known material (plenty of Chuck Berry, Fleetwood Mac and Chicago tunes) but performed with enough freshness and originality to avoid the sound-alike trap.

‘Route 66’ in a bustling Stones’ style was followed by ‘You Gotta Move’ with an expressive Dave Stephenson solo. They gave the song a playfully amusing ending and kept the humour going when Rob drew attention to JJ’s Santa resemblance (imagine a Goth version, if you can!) before launching into a funky ‘Long Grey Mare’ and a tough little solo of his own.

A swampy ‘Suzy Q’ had an almost psychedelic feel, with the guitarists confidently playing off one another, and then a fast rockabilly number rode the country borderline to good effect. JJ’s boogeying here was answered by some audience partying on ‘Nadine’ and a country-inflected ‘You Never Can Tell’.

A John Lee Hooker slow blues changed the mood and underlined the band’s credentials with a really passionate, heartfelt solo from Dave complemented by Rob’s careworn vocal. There was Ry Cooder’s ‘Crazy About an Automobile’, a livelier-than-Clapton ‘Before You Accuse Me’ and a dirty little R&R number before ‘Help Me’ brought the first half to a powerful close.

‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ had more contrast than the Stones’ version, swinging from heavy rock to Nashville, and they ripped it up on ‘Bullfrog Blues’ with surf guitar and a clever segue into the Ventures’ ‘Wipe Out’. Chuck Berry’s ‘News For You’ kept the audience on the move, as did ‘Brown Sugar’ and the Jimmy Reed shuffle ‘Big Boss Man’. From then on I concentrated on my own terpsichorean twirling but can affirm that neither quality nor entertainment dipped for a moment and can thoroughly recommend New Tricks for a good old-fashioned knees-up!