This week — still celebrating a “Month Montage of Blues” in STAINES — we went to the RIVERSIDE CLUB to see the FRAN MGILLIVRAY band (with Mike Burke.)
Fran is the bassist with the colourful and expressive voice who adds energizing structure to the blues-tunes she performs. Fran plays alongside the great talent of Mike Burke, on guitar.
Fran started playing folk, roots and blues music in the late 1970s with Mike Burke, and appeared at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1977 following the release of the album “Into the Light.”
The band have recently been mixing their new album [Riverside Club favorite Alan Glen is a guest on the recording) so we were pleased they chose to play a couple of songs from the upcoming release including “When, when, when.”
This is a song about looking back to a time before gadgets and smart-phones. When forming and maintaining relationships was perhaps easier (who knows?) This was a cool number, full of expression and a touch of yearning.
We loved the choppiness of numbers like “Hard Working Woman.”
Fran’s vocals on this song reminded us of Elkie Brooks during her Vinegar Joe days. We also enjoyed the fluency on tracks like the ‘Little Walter‘ standard “Blues with a Feeling” — although we could have done with harmonica for this one.
In the 1990s Fran and Mike formed the urban blues band “So Long Angel” and they played us the showy and vibrant “Ecstasy” from that period. It was filled with a fusion of jazz and psychedelia and was our favorite number.
In amongst the jazz-tinged songs and country-blues offerings — all played with nuanced voice and robust bass lines from Fran and expressive finger style from Mike — was a handful of rhythm and blues numbers, such as Rufus Thomas danceable “Walking the Dog” with sexy bass notes and flames of guitar.
We also loved the Fran McGillivray version of “Not Fade Away” with its rough sharpness, Bo Diddley beat (enriched by percussionist Roger Nunn) and very pleasant, languid voice.
This was a positive, upbeat and mellow show full of curative simplicity and subtle reflection.
An outstanding evening of quality musicianship.