Blues In Britain May 2005
Review by Lionel Ross

The John Oleary Band
Alexander's Jazz Theatre 17th March 2005



As it was St. Patrick’s Day, the appearance of Irishman John O’Leary’s band at Alexander’s was particularly apt. The band, which boasts a pool of musicians to choose from, has a core trio of John on vocals and harp, Jules Fothergill on guitar and Joachim Greve on drums.  On this occasion, the line-up was completed by bass guitarist Nick Townsend and Parisian guitarist Marc Le Guerranic, both of whom maintained the exceptionally high standard of musicianship of formerly witnessed combinations.


After an introductory instrumental from the band, John O’Leary joined the others on stage to set the tone of the evening with a fine rendition of “Born In Chicago”.  There followed the customary litany of blues standards, including “19 Years Old”, “Who’s Been Talking” and “Little By Little”, which provided a well-balanced variation of pace and intensity. Finely executed harp solos were matched by phenomenal, individual contributions from both guitarists. Jules Fothergill’s hard edged aggression being nicely contrasted with the gentler, legato style of the Frenchman.

The second set continued in similar fashion, featuring more old favourites from the Chicago blues songbook.  Particularly splendid were a delivery of “Yonder Wall” and a smouldering version of “Rock Me Baby”.  There was also a funky performance of “Black Cat Bone”, which allowed Joachim Greve to demonstrate his incredible skills in an extended drum solo.

While the two formations that John O’Leary had previously brought to Chester were both excellent, this line-up was even better.  The friendly rivalry between the two young guitar slingers generated a nerve-tingling energy that kept the suitably responsive audiences on the edge of their seats throughout the evening.  This is undoubtedly a band that deserves wider exposure and greater recognition…..Lionel  Ross