Myke Gray & Kim Jennett / The Howling Tides

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Myke Gray & Kim Jennett / The Howling Tides - Warloo, Blackpool (UK) - 28 February 2020

Another trip to Blackpool and another storm to contend with (thanks Jorge). Wind and rain on a bleak Friday night in a coastal town in the North West of England is not enough to dampen the spirits of Myke Gray's fans, and it was good to see a healthy turnout upon entering the Waterloo venue.

First up we had Midlands (Uttoxeter) quartet The Howling Tides. The name was new to me, but they seem to have made an impact following support slots with The Dead Daisies, RavenEye and Black Star Riders. They released a self-titled five-track EP in 2017 and the set featured some of these songs alongside some newer material, which I think will be available sometime in the near future. Their no-nonsense high-energy Classic Rock style was intensely entertaining and backed up by some quality material. The band is made up of Rob Baynes (vocals/guitar), Hayden Kirk (guitar), Luke Lawley (bass) and Steven Herbert (drums) and it was clear that they made a number of new fans during the course of their fourty-minute set; myself included.

Myke Gray has been around for a good few years now and his pedigree is without doubt. Firstly with the short lived Jagged Edge (featuring vocalist Matti Alfonzetti) and then the more enduring Skin (featuring the vocal skills of Neville MacDonald), his guitar playing and song-writing has probably been underestimated or overlooked. He joined forces with Alfonzetti again in another short-lived project, Red White & Blues, and the resulting 'Shine' album was one of 2011's highlights. In more recent times he has enlisted the talented Kim Jennett to lend her considerable vocals to the cause and I was keen to see just how the established songs would come across with a different singer.

The RW&B song 'Stand Up For Rock & Roll' was a fitting opener and pretty soon the miserable weather was forgotten. Jennett stamped her authority from the start and through 'Let Me Be The One' and the Skin song 'Love Like Suicide' her energy levels and voice were off the chart. Gray was obviously content to let her take the bulk of the attention, but was always at the heart of everything with his consummate playing. The debut Skin album was plundered for the likes of 'House Of Love', 'Colourblind', 'Look But Don't Touch', 'Tower Of Strength' and 'Shine Your Light' and without missing a vocal beat Jennett made several trips through the crowd to stand on the bar. She may be diminutive, but her controlled vocal power is remarkable. During a four-song encore it was a pleasant surprise to hear Jagged Edge's 'You Don't Love Me'. The song may be thirty years old, but it has lost none of its resonance and was a personal highlight.

Looking at the gig calendar for 2020 it is clear that the Waterloo in Blackpool is fast becoming a more attractive venue, even for bands/acts with a higher profile than Gray and Jenett. It is a fifty-mile drive for me, but I'm more than happy to make the trip if the calibre of the performances and all-round shows are as good as this one. There are plenty of cheap B&Bs within a ten-minute walk and no real excuses not to go... bucket & spade and sun cream optional.

Dave Bott

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