Sam Green & The Midnight Heist @theoakBath

Sam Green & The Midnight Heist performing at The Royal Oak in Bath

The Christmas lull is done, the office parties are over, the students are back and we’re on the gig scene once more. Our first outing of the year was to The Royal Oak on Lower Bristol Road to see the brilliant Sam Green & The Midnight Heist.

The venue was packed; not difficult on a Friday night, but considering how long it was from everyone’s last payday it was impressive and testament to Sam’s ability to bring in a crowd.

Paul Hopkins playing double bass at The Royal Oak in Bath in January 2017

On this particular evening, ‘The Midnight Heist’ were replaced by a couple of more than able locals, including the ever-ebuliant Paul Hopkins, who showed a double bass is more than an instrument, it’s a dancing partner.

 

Sam utilizes a number of guitar techniques in his performances, some subtle others less so and more blisteringly fast and dexterous, but by far his best comes out when playing lap style and he showed this by dishing out a heap of swaggering blues-folk-roots concoctions. It was an auditory feast for the audience, hearing the blending of guitar and Sam’s soft yet rich vocals, with a peppering of double bass and percussion, all garnished with a helping of harmonica blasts.

 

Sam admitted this was a very rough and ready set, though you could hardly tell and to the audience it was proof of the quality of the musicians, as between songs he briefly informed the band of what they’d be playing next, whispering “…this one’s in A♭” as they began executing another flawless piece.

Some of the songs draw attention to themes like societal obsessions over capitalism, such as in the song “Money“, but without being at all preachy, where as others (most) are a bit more “Let’s get crazy and jump around”.

Sam Green performing at The Royal Oak in Bath

The only annoyance with the evening was that we missed the opening few songs, not by accident, but because past experiences have taught us The Royal Oak rarely start a gig at the advertised time.

That aside, it was a deft display of improvisational prowess on the part of the band and another inspirational performance from Sam Green. If you didn’t see them, don’t worry, you only have to wait till April to see Sam when he’s on tour. No more gigs till then unfortunately.

However, the release of his new solo album is imminent, so watch his page to see when. Even better than that though is the news that preparation has begun for a full band album following the April tour. So there’s a lot for fans to get excited about in the coming months.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 20 January 2017

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MATT WOOSEY @TheNestBath

Matt Woosey performing at The Nest, Bath, December 2016

As Matt Woosey and his band assembled on stage at The Nest, I pondered on what I was about to hear. Considering how talented he is solo, I was bemused as to what need he had for a drummer, bass player, a lead guitarist and another fellow on piano and sporting an extra lead guitar?

Matt Woosey’s prolific gigging has garnered him many exquisite musical partnerships, resulting in different line-ups each time he’s visited Bath, but I’d never seen him perform with a full band. I expect it to be good, but how good?

The old crowd favorite Cruel Disposition was the first track out the gates and immediately it became clear what these extra musicians were bringing. I hadn’t thought Matt’s music could get any better than I’d heard in the past, but I was glad to be surprised. In fact, I was more than surprised, I was gobsmacked.

Matt Woosey singing British Blues, The Nest, Bath, 2016

Matt now lives in Germany and he’d brought three German friends on tour and roped in Dave Small, an old drumming friend. Even with the heavy compliment of Continental songsters, this was far from any EuroVision song entry.

Over the proceeding hour Matt’s ensemble disgorged a set which mesmerized the crowd. Yes, there was a fuller sound provided by the band, but there was more than that. The two additional guitarists nearly stole the show with their dueling and the piano, bass and drums really enriched Matt’s British Blues sound.

Many of the songs are written from the heart, stemming from Matt’s personal experiences and this emotive material was borne out in sometimes gritty, sometimes smooth songs which changed in tempo and mood, drawing the audience in and then exploding out. Matt’s slightly rusted vocals were still there, but this time backed by Dave who showed that his talents extend further than just percussive deftness.

Matt Woosey guitarPossibly the greatest sign of how hard Matt works is shown by his guitar, not necessarily his great playing, but by the actual worn area around the sound hole. This is clearly a man who will play till his dying day.

You might’ve been put off by The Nest‘s £8 entry fee for this gig, which when compared to other cheaper events would appear steep, but this was definitely a case of getting what you paid for and then some.

We have Max Webster, promoter for RMT Music Promotions to thank for this superb gig and yes, if you weren’t there you have indeed missed a truly spellbinding performance, but do not despair, because Matt returns to the UK in March 2017. Till then you will have to make do with listening to his music online. Black Smoke Rising definitely made one of the best encore numbers I’ve seen in a long time and probably left more than a few audience members feeling they’d experienced something exceptional.

Hopefully, with the right people taking notice, coupled with his unyielding dedication, Matt will go on to be one of the true greats of British music. People in years to come will say things like “Remember when we saw him play at The Nest?”.

Support for Matt Woosey was provided on the night by Luke De-Sciscio.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 15th December 2016

Photos courtesy of Jamie Worsfold

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Upcoming gigs at The Nest

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.