12th June 2015
Howard Assembly Room, Leeds – 4 June 2015

Grammy award nominees for the Best Blues Album of 2012, the Heritage Blues Orchestra brought the quintet version of their band to The Howard Assembly Room tonight. But would anything be missing from the incredible sound captured by the full band without the brass section?

Showcasing many of the songs from the absolutely essential Grammy nominated album And Still I Rise, the HBOQ open with Leadbelly’s Go Down Hannah, setting the bar really high from the very beginning. The first track on the album, Clarksdale Moan, follows, before the uplifting Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down gets every one tapping their feet. The heartfelt If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again comes next before all except Junior Mack leave the stage and we’re treated to Delta Slide. As the foursome return, we hear Feel So Glad, before Chaney Sims delivers one of the best versions of St James Infirmary in living memory. Her vocals are stunning here and, for that matter, throughout the evening. Joliet Bound, about the penitentiary where Jake and Elwood end up in the third act of John Landis’ classic film The Blues Brothers ended up, follows, before Big-Legged Woman, Hard Times and In The Morning brought this fabulous evening to a close with the audience satisfied but obviously wanting more, which is usually a very good sign.

So, was anything missing? Not even in the slightest, as the audience got to their feet in admiration of what they’d just witnessed, not once but twice!

Support came from local band The Sentimentalists, a trio for this evening’s performance but normally a sextet. A mixture of Jake Thackrey, The Divine Comedy and Lambchop is the best way to describe them and with songs like I Wouldn’t Drown Myself Today, Northern Soul and The Next Three Floors - with the line ‘Maybe alphabetisise my 45s … Chronological takes too much time – it’s not a surprise to find them in the line-up for Glastonbury 2015.

Written by Kevin Petch

Heritage Blues Orchestra Quintet …
Bill Sims Jr. – vocals, guitar and handclaps
Chaney Sims – vocals, tambourine and handclaps
Junior Mack – vocals, guitar and slide guitar
Kenny ‘Beedy Eyes’ Smith - drums
Vincent Bucher – harmonica

The Sentimentalists …
Philip Fowler – vocals and guitar
Daniel Bath – piano
Matt Pawson - guitar