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Connolly Hayes + Andy Taylor Group + Joe Anderton

Tuesday 18th June 2024

The 100 Club, London

All credit to promoter Solid Entertainments, whose Blues nights at this venue continue to offer three bands for little more than the price of two London pints! On this occasion Joe Anderton was the opening act, having stepped in at short notice to replace Big River and, although other commitments restricted me to just the final two songs of his half hour solo (guitar & vocals), he was well received by the relatively few early birds.

By the time the Andy Taylor Group took to the stage at 8.30pm the venue was getting on for half full and those present were treated to a fine 45 minute set. Almost all of us seemed to be hearing this band for the first time, which is perhaps unsurprising, as they hail from as far away as the Orkney Islands and this was their London debut.

A solid Blues/Rock trio, the band features the leader on guitar and vocals, David Flanagan on bass and backing vocals and Dylan Pepper on drums. I was lucky enough to bag one of only four remaining copies of the 'Drifting Days' (2019) CD, although only the opening and closing numbers of the band’s set were taken from that album. Andy told me during the interval that a live album has already been recorded for the next release and, on the evidence of this set, it should be a treat.

The Taylor guitar was to the fore from the word go, showing up to particularly good effect on the instrumental 'Smokes & Jokes' and the slow Blues of 'All That’s Left', and Flanagan took an extended bass solo during 'The Weight Of Love' (a reference to our expanding waistlines when in a happy relationship!). 'Southbound' owed nothing to the Allmans, but, together with 'Cruel Cruel Woman', allowed the leader to indulge himself with brief nods to Santana ('Black Magic Woman'/'Gypsy') and Hendrix ('Third Stone From The Sun').

An impressive London debut and definitely a band to look out for!

I’d heard Connolly Hayes perform a brief support set for Robin Trower three weeks ago and wondered what a full set might be like; I didn’t have to wait long, as this gig was the official release show for their debut album 'Remember Me'.

The band has clearly already built up a decent following and the venue was about two thirds full for their set, with a significant number of Connolly Hayes t-shirts on view. Those fans were clearly already familiar with the music and, with more than half the set culled from the album and song announcements kept to a minimum, I felt at a bit of a disadvantage (I had to rely on a photo of the setlist for most of the song titles, which I assume to be mainly originals).

'Secret' and 'Hung Up On Your Love' appear on the album, but the origins of 'Misunderstood' and 'Find Yourself', which followed, remain a mystery, although the last-named revealed Connolly to be a fine vocalist in his own right. 'Meet In The Middle' was introduced as a new song, before the band returned to the album for another trio of cuts; Frank and Jess shared the vocals on both 'Tired Of This Love' and 'Frank’s Song', with the rocker 'Something’s Gotta Matter' sandwiched in between.

The highlight of the evening was a cover version of the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s 'Midnight In Harlem'; Jess and Frank had both shone on the trio version played in Islington, but in Soho I was hugely impressed by Joe Mac’s keyboard work and Andy Wilder’s drumming, which was solidly underpinned by Beau Barnard’s bass. Joe has apparently only just joined the band and was the unannounced third member in Islington; although I hadn’t heard Connolly Hayes without him, I’d still say he adds considerably to the group’s sound.

The funky 'That’s What Love Will Do For You' featured a Richard Clarke guitar solo and more nice keyboard work and, after 'Part Of Me', the main set closed with the album’s title track. Having not started their set until close to 9.45 pm and with curfew approaching, the band didn’t leave the stage before introducing another new song as the encore; Frank shared vocal duties with Jess on 'Lover Not A Fighter', as well as playing a fine, if brief, slide solo. ('Love The One You’re With' was also setlisted, but presumably bit the dust due to time constraints.)

So, all in all a nice set which was clearly enjoyed by all, without (at least for me) being particularly memorable, save for 'Midnight In Harlem'. Perhaps moving from Rock to Blues to Funk to Soul makes it more difficult to plan a cohesive setlist (or maybe that will become easier when the band has more material to choose from); that melting pot of styles can work and the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Marcus King are prime examples, but Susan and Derek already had their own careers before TTB and Marcus is talented enough to pull just about anything off!

I’ll be interested to hear the band again down the line and, despite Jess’ fine voice. will hope to hear more of Frank on both vocals and guitar, but for now it’s the Andy Taylor Group’s CD which is going back in the player…

Gary Smith

Photos: John Bull


CH – Secret*; Hung Up On Your Love*; Misunderstood; Find Yourself; Meet
In The Middle; Tired Of This Love*; Something’s Gotta Matter*;
Frank’s Song* Midnight In Harlem*; That’s What Love Will Do For You;
Part Of Me; Remember Me*; Lover Not A Fighter.

(*From the album “Remember Me”.)

ATG – Loose Cannon; Smokes & Jokes; Got Me Workin’; All That’s Left; The
Weight Of Love; See See Baby; Southbound; Cruel Cruel Woman.

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