Mike Ross Band plus the Michael Parker Duo

A glorious spring day in Brecon saw the very welcome return of some long-standing friends to the Muse, where a sell-out crowd was treated to an excellent evening’s entertainment. Stylishly and bilingually compered as ever by Mr Paul Keddle, the evening kicked off with the ever-popular duo of Michael Parker and James Davies.

Michael Parker

Michael Parker is well loved in these parts for his trademark brand of rousing and powerfully rhythmic acoustic blues, complemented by some more delicate semi-autobiographical songwriting on numbers such as ‘Comanche Rules’, his lament about the tribulations of a touring musician. As usual, the introduction of James Davies on harmonica took the sound to another level, as the two men launched into some thoroughly enjoyable blues standards.

James Davies

They delivered particularly enjoyable versions of the classics ‘Stormy Monday’ and ‘Key to the Highway’, in which James’ wailing blues harp lines merged seamlessly with Michael’s excellent guitar work. The audience particularly appreciated their dedication of a nostalgic ‘Statesboro Blues’ to the late Dickey Betts of Allman Brothers fame.

Yet again they achieved ‘100% pure alcohol’ by the end of their set, so the audience headed off thirstily in the direction of the bar to await the next highlight of the evening… a remarkable and thunderous two-hour set from the mighty Mike Ross Band.

From the very first notes, it was obvious that we were in for a treat, as Mike Ross wrung out some immersively swirling and echo-drenched psychedelic riffs from his guitar, transporting many in the audience way back to their bygone misspent youths. Momentarily you felt like you might have been in a field somewhere in 1970… and then the whole band kicked in, bringing you back to the present day with their hugely powerful, tight and irresistibly raunchy blues-rock sound.

Mike Ross

Mike is an absolute virtuoso on guitar – moving effortlessly between styles including country-tinged Americana, intricately punchy rhythm playing, and blisteringly echo-laden vintage blues – giving his pedals quite a work-out along the way. At one point he even managed to make a patched-up old eBay acquisition sound like the most wonderful blues guitar in the world. Combined with his excellently soulful singing, you are reminded at times of some of the greats of British blues-rock: perhaps a touch of Joe Cocker, and certainly fond memories of Terry Reid in his prime.

Mike’s slower and more delicate numbers such as ‘Lazy’ (from the ‘Spindrift’ album) and ‘Ships Pass Me By’ allowed space within the instrumentation for the audience to appreciate both his singing and the subtlety and intelligence of his songwriting: in the epic ‘Fallen Down’ (from the ‘Third Eye Open’ album) his voice cries out the pain of the lyrics across a menacingly snarling guitar.

Lindsey Oliver
Darren Lee

Special mention must be made of the brilliant combination of Lindsey Oliver and Darren Lee on bass and drums respectively. They drove the band along with great sophistication, sensitivity and authority, creating a flawlessly tight overall sound. And when the trio really let rip, on punchy rocking numbers such as “None of your business”, the result was breathtaking, bringing the more sprightly members of the audience to their feet for some appropriately retro-style dancing.

Quite how the band managed to play for two whole hours with such unfaltering skill, power and energy is a mystery… but they were very much appreciated and we wish them much success and safe travels for the remainder of their tour.

As always, many thanks to everyone who contributed to making this gig possible, the wonderful people at the Muse, and to everyone in the audience who turned out to support these excellent musicians.



Photos by Barry Hill
Review by Jim Kerslake

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