Saturday 24th September
Leo's Red Lion, Gravesend
We first caught London Blues Rock band Born Healer last year at London's iconic 100 Club supporting The Rainbreakers (who played BluesRockFest last year) and the legendary Corky Laing of Mountain fame. Rising in early 2015 out of the phoenix of the now defunct but well respected Bare Bones Boogie Band - namely Helen Turner (vocals), Iain Black (guitar) and Andy Jones (drums) - they were joined by bass guitarist Marek Funkas. Anyway, their 100 Club gig was a blast - so when this particular reviewer was asked to propose a band for this year's BluesRockfest - without hesitation I recommended Born Healer as they were fresh to the Blues circuit and deserved a crack at an established festival. Not only that, but this year they had also released their critically acclaimed first album 'Til The Dawn'.
No pressure then as they kicked off our fourth BluesRockFest at 3pm at Leo's Red Lion, Gravesend, with already a sizeable crowd in attendance. As expected their forty minute setlist would draw completely on their new album as they opened with the titfer wearing Funkas' cool bassline on
'River' and immediately the Red Lion punters were, ahem, hooked. 'Trust Yourself' with Turner's 'Joplinesque' groovy, gravelly voice and tangible stage presence, was a great foot stomping romp with a great riff from Black. Taj Mahal's 'Leaving Trunk' grooved and rocked in true 60's/70's style whilst 'Brand New Day' emphasised the tightness of a band excelling in all the right places. Black's intro on the album title track took things down tempo with some intricate guitar work combined with Turner's hypnotic captivating voice that saw the appreciative crowd hanging of off every word. Classy.
Jones' opening drums heralded 'Pressure Valve', the first song on the album, again with great guitar work from Black accompanied by haunting vocals from Turner - critical comparisons to an early Elkie Brooks totally understandable. However, after the hard paced rocker 'Healing Hand' with excellent vocal jousting harmonies between Black and Turner - they saved their best for last - with Zep's 'Since I've Been Loving You' - which was awesome. Turner's diction and delivery was spellbinding as was Black's guitar homage to JP. Dedicated to a certain Zoe - I don't think she was alone in the audience when she paid tribute to the fact that this was the best cover of 'SIBLY' she had ever heard! Amazing. Given the strength of the BluesRockFest undercard, it would be perhaps churlish to point out that a number of punters thought that they deserved to be higher up the order - and given my recommendation - I would be no doubt be accused of bias. One thing's for certain - guys you did us proud with a quality set that set the benchmark for a day to remember.