Blues In Britain
March 2009 Vol. Issue 87

The John O'Leary Band at The Oval, Croydon
28th January 200o9

Review by Bill Smith

Blues In Britain 

March 2009 Vol. 1 Issue 87

The Oval Tavern, East Croydon

18th January 2009

John O'Leary is a well-known figure on the British blues scene and is a welcome regular performer at the Oval Tavern.  For this performance he was joined by Jules Fothergill on guitar, Jools Grudgings on keyboards, Glyn Evans on bass and Jamie Levine (Jamie Little) on drums.  John also invited two special guests, Alan Glen  on harmonica and vocals and Saiichi Sugiyama on guitar.

The band kicked off with that blues classic "Born In Chicago" with fine harp, a tuneful and jazzy extended guitar solo and a great extended keyboard solo.  More harp pyrotechnics occured on "Snatch It Back & Hold It" with again more fine dynamic guitar.  Jools Grudgings played some fine Hammond style organ on "Early In The Morning" with all the stops pulled out on guitar  and a full bodied harp solo.  Saiichi Sugiyama then guested on "She's Nineteen Years Old", where the band gave a great ensemble sound and there were fine solos from all the featured instrumentalists.

Alan Glen was invited on the stage to sing and play harmonica on "I Don't Worry About A Thing (Cos Nothing's Gonna Be Alright)".  A lyrical harp solo was followed by an equally lyrical guitar solo, then keyboard followed by harp and finishing with question and answer on harp and guitar.  This was great stuff and the audience loved it!  Alan followed up with Junior Wells' "Stomach Ache", a fine vehicle for harp with a Wes Montgomery style solo from Jules on guitar and a Jimmy Smith style solo on keyboards.  John O'Leary came back to finish the set on harp and vocal with a fine rendering of "Little By Little".

he second set started with the ensemble, minus John, playing an instrumental a la "Pick Up The Pieces" with all soloing to great effect.  John then played "Look On Yonder's Wall" which seagued into "Help Me"& "One Way Out".  There was much dynamics on display with great keyboard, guitar and harp solos which left the audience shouting for more.  Jools Grudging then featured, playing some scintillating boogie woogie.  Then, Saiichi Sugiyama was invited up on "Rock Me Baby".  There was some great guitar work from him and Jules, an excellent extended  harp solo from John, with a great build up and good dynamics. The song seagued into "40 Days & 40 Nights" for a grandstand finish.

Alan Glen played harp on "Watch Out" with great soloing from all and a duo on harp with Alan on John.  This was all great stuff that the audience thoroughly enjoyed.  John then played and sang "Long Ways From Home" once again with great soloing from all, then finished the gig with "Black Cat Bone" which brought a great evening to a fitting conclusion.

John O'Leary has a strong track record and his band is equally well qualified.  Jules Fothergill was on fire and was matched by all the other performers.  Alan Glen showed his mastery of the medium and Saiichi Sugiyama added greatly to the performance.  This was a night to remember; long may it continue at The Oval Tavern! - Bill Smith