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Last year's 'Maverick' album saw a slight move away from the more traditional Blues style to something in a Melodic Rock vein and was one of the best releases of the year for me

Liverpool : Grand Central Hall - 16th October 2021

Grand Central Hall in Liverpool was, for a long time, a building housing a number of independent shops specialising in alternative clothing and jewellery. For a couple of years now it has become busy as the location for bars and eating places. The big upstairs room has become a venue (capacity around three hundred I would guess) and tonight is my first visit. Even though it was a busy Saturday night in the city centre it was good to see a healthy turnout for the show.

When Rivers Meet are Grace and Aaron Bond; a husband and wife Blues duo who have been attracting a lot media attention on the back of their 2020 'We Fly Free' album. They clearly had a number of their own fans in the audience and were greeted enthusiastically when they took to the stage. The songs are well constructed Blues/Rock workouts and the sound is enhanced by backing tracks. If I have a criticism at all is the lack of a real band as having a bass player and drummer makes a big different to the sound. There is no doubting the talent however. Grace Bond has a great voice and her delivery brings life to the songs. Aaron Bond contributes some nice slide guitar and backing vocals and they work really well together. Grace adds some nice guitar touches of her own and they really did set things up perfectly for the headliners.

Until a few years ago Scottish Blues band King King were never on my radar. I happened to catch their set at the Rock & Blues Custom show and have tracked their progress ever since. Last year's 'Maverick' album saw a slight move away from the more traditional Blues style to something in a Melodic Rock vein and was one of the best releases of the year for me. When they took to the stage at around 8.30pm the crowd had swelled a little more and AC/DC's 'Highway To Hell' heralded their entrance. Opener '(She Don't) Gimme No Lovin', from 2017's 'Exile & Grace', is a cool up-tempo start to proceedings and then we get a ninety minute, fifteen track set that pulls in songs from every album. Six songs from 'Maverick' feature and they slot in nicely next to the more established material. 'Never Give In', 'Fire In My Soul', Whatever It Takes' and 'I Will Not Fall' sound even better live and during the first half of the show personal favourites would have to be 'Rush Hour' and 'You Stopped The Rain'.

It was nice to be able to take in the whole show stood at the bar but the actual set-up allows for a good view of the stage wherever you stand. The sound quality was also excellent. Band leader Alan Nimmo is a very personable frontman, though I have to confess to needing subtitles for some of his between song banter. Some of his lead guitar work is sublime, but the stand-out moment of the night was the stripped back version of 'When My Winter Comes' when his vocal delivery was spellbinding. It was a proper goose-bump moment and it was also clear that most of the audience felt the same. Nimmo may garner all the plaudits but this is never anything less than band performance. An extended 'Stranger To Love' and energetic 'Let Love In' brought things to a rousing climax and the 10pm finish meant not having to break world records to catch the last train home and also provided enough time to get one last drink and discuss the show.

It just feels so good to be able to get out to live events again and post lockdown I have yet to be disappointed by any of the bands I have seen.

Dave Bott

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