John O’Leary Band at The Running Horse, Nottingham

March 2004


John's immense experience of the British blues scene, dating back to the early days of Alexis Korner and harmonica virtuoso Cyril Davies, led me to expect a cracking gig and so it proved!  John is a great harp player, displaying lots of technique but never in a showy way.  His solos seemed to grow naturally from the music and his unhurried delivery served the songs beautifully.  The Paul Butterfield comparison is obvious and on Born In Chicago he even sang like Paul.  The band hit their stride early, which was no surprise with the master of funk Dave Clarke on bass, talented newcomer Jules Fothergill on guitar and the versatile Joachim Greve on drums. 








Highlights from the first half were a passionate Early In The Morning, a suitably raucous treatment of Muddy’s She’s Nineteen Years Old and a sweet and affectionate version of Lowell Fulson’s (sic) Little By Little. 

The second half had Butterfield’s (sic), Look On Yonder’s Wall, The Thrill Is Gone, Rock Me and Black cat Bone, to name the more familiar songs.  Numbers were tightly arranged but the band often achieved a loose jamming feel, with jazzier directions reminding me of the spirit behind the seminal Butterfield East-West  album.  Jules Fothergill is a better guitar player than Mike Bloomfield though, laying down some adventurous and eclectic solos, each one apparently better that the last, with some stuff that sounded like Roy Buchannan - I loved it, but wasn’t quite sure if it quite fitted the song.  Never mind, I’d rather have this wide-ranging, thought provoking stuff than lumpy pub British blues-rock any day.

The blues can often be beautiful and tonight it certainly was!…..

Dave Kingsbury, Nottingham