On a cold and wet Saturday evening in the lovely village of Ripley, we had the pleasure of watching Rebecca Downes and her band. And what a night it was – something old, something new, something borrowed and something Blue.
Before Rebecca hit the stage, we had the brilliant Jed Thomas – a solo semi-acoustic blues guitarist with a short set before he went on to his next gig at The Blues Bar in Harrogate. The best song for me was when he played Out On The Western Plain - originally done by Leadbelly in 1946 and of course Rory Gallagher in 1975. A fantastic rendition of the old classic and it showed off his great guitar skills to the full. A great opening act to eat our fish and chips to, which we got from the local pub, The Boars Head, as the promised fish and chip van never turned up.
Rebecca kicked off with the brilliant Take Me Higher one of 8 on the night from her new album More Sinner Than Saint. A song written over 4 years ago and she and Steve (Birkett) had been waiting for the right album to release it on. A spectacular opening track to both the show and the album. That was followed by the 2nd one from the new album, Wave Them Goodbye, another brilliant showcase for Rebecca’s vocal range and how tight the band were considering it was a relatively new track for them to play. Then we went ‘Back To The Start’ with the classic Fever In The Night from her 1st album from 2014. Always a crowd pleaser and no different that night either. Then it was the title track from the new album and that one also went down a storm. An altogether rockier feel to the album but as Rebecca said ”It ain’t blues, it ain’t rock – it’s just music! I am fed up of people putting music into genres. “ And ruddy great music it was too!
Next up, time to slow it down a bit for the classic I’d Rather Go Blind. The original was by Etta James (and covered by many many other singers) but Rebecca gives it her inimitable treatment and turns it into her own. The last two for the first half were two staples from her catalogue and firm crowd favourites – Night Train and Sweetness – both from the Believe album of 2016. Rebecca and the band were really finding their feet now and belted them out in classic fashion.
After a short break (for a bit of a chat and time for them all to recover their energy) and then straight in to 3 tracks from the new album. First up it was the new single Hurts and then If I Go To Sleep – the first single from the album. Followed by Stand on My Feet and the whole audience realised that this album is the best they have done – not that the others were rubbish!!
The crowd were then knocked out with their rendition of Zed Leppelin’s (Rebecca’s own words!) Rock and Roll. She mentioned she had met Robert Plant in her home town of Wolverhampton and had to look up to him as is a tall bloke. Well, from that diminutive frame of Miss Downes comes some of the finest vocals to match any ‘big bloke’. Blooming awesome version and the band were exceptional with guitar and keyboard interplay at its best. The ever-smiling Lloyd Daker on drums and the quiet and unassuming Vince Yarrington on bass guitar kept the rhythm well and truly up to scratch.
Time for the final two of the night – the anthem Believe (my personal favourite of theirs) and the final one from the new album Big Sky (which Rebecca admitted later was her favourite from the album). Two more examples of the range and power of Rebecca’s vocals and the brilliance of the band behind her.
Off they trooped and came back in a few minutes to the inevitable encore which was dedicated to her success which wouldn’t have been without ‘A Little Help From My Friends’. A great finish to a great night that was enjoyed immensely by all the audience judging by how long we stood and applauded! We are off to see them at The Cutlers in Rotherham in July – bring it on!!