Good to see the Theatre on the Steps, BridgnorthÂ taking a chance on bringing original acts to the stage, alongside the popular tribute bands and local events that currently dominate the events programme.
Though still a largely unknown name outside ofÂ Blues circles, the Brighton based songstress, Jo Harman, has attracted some good career highlights to date in her fledgling career and, thanks to a some proactive preview publicity, a healthy crowd turned up at the theatre to check out this engaging young soul/blues singer with a powerhouse band.
If a rather loud and heavy opening number had one or two audience members shifting in their seats, wondering if theyâ€™d indeed made the right decision, by the time Harman had completed her third number, an expansive cover of the Seals and Croft/Isley Brothers classic â€™Summer Breezeâ€™, the audience had visibly relaxed and warmed to the show on offer.
Thereafter a wonderfully soulful, well paced, two set show of quite masterful musicianship followed, Harman sensibly mixing in her own take on some well thought out cover material â€“ borrowing heavily from 70â€™s classics recorded well before she was born â€“ with her own material. Indeed, her original songs â€“ not least the outstanding ballads â€™Cold Heartâ€™, â€™Sweet Man Mosesâ€™ and â€™Worthy of Loveâ€™ â€“ were amongst the best received performances of the night.
If the charismatic, honey haired, honey voiced Harman was the undoubted star, her young band were equally impressive with Steve Watts driving Hammond and Mike Davies phenomenal guitar work attracting warm applause and, at one point, the odd standing ovation mid song. The publicity had claimed Harman had a â€™world class bandâ€™ (with CVâ€™s to prove it) and, on the evidence of this show, not many people would be minded to argue.
This young five piece were simply outstanding, bringing a cohesive mix of soul, blues, rock and country ballads of a quality rarely seen at such close quarters. Jo Harman is a quite phenomenal performer â€“ almost a throwback to the golden age of music, which underlines her comprehensive appeal. With a band to match, this is clearly an artist going places.
A five star night from a five star performer.
Review By Adrian Finds