Long Road Home
Thursday 16th November 2023
The Half Moon, Putney, London
A five-piece Rock band with Prog and Blues influences from bands and artists such as Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Humble Pie, Gary Moore, Robin Trower and Joe Bonamassa, Long Road Home released their debut album, 'Are We Invisible?' at the end of last month, and last Thursday the WRC were lucky enough to be invited along to the album launch at The Half Moon, with support from Bad Influence duo Val and Richard.
The chairs and tables complemented the intimate atmosphere, as Val Cowell (vocals/rhythm guitar) and Richard Hayes (guitar/backing vocals), considered by many to be one of the top acts in their field, opened with a delightful thirty minute set of powerful vocals alongside classic guitar driven rock solid Blues. Kicking off with Bonnie Raitt's 'Love Me Like A Man', plus a nice take on Del Shannon's 'Runaway', the dynamic duo slowed things down with some added slide guitar on Neil Diamond's 'I'm Guilty', followed by Delbert McClinton's more upbeat 'Going Back To Louisiana', before closing out with the 1948 K. C Douglas and Robert Geddins classic boogie, 'Mercury Blues'. A fun start to the evening, continued during the interval, with the drawing of a musical prize raffle that raised an amazing £300 plus for Macmillan Cancer Support. Well done to all concerned.
Creating an individual live sound, blending various musical styles, tonight we expected to hear fresh, original Rock and Blues-influenced tunes combined with Classic Rock, from musicians with many years of touring and recording experience, and indeed, we got exactly what it said on the tin.
Comprising bassist Derek White, keyboard player Ian Salisbury, renowned guitarist Steve Summers, vocalist Mike Sebbage (Rien de Faire) and drummer Lee Morrell (Midge Ure), earlier this year we were treated to a thoroughly entertaining, semi-acoustic thirty minute set from 3/5 of the band, supporting Focus at London's Bush Hall, namely White, Summers and Sebbage, although our association with Derek and Ian goes back many years to the much missed, much loved and the one and only Larry Miller.
In fact tonight was not only the launch of Long Road Home's debut, but it was also apparently the debut of this iconic venue's new mega PA system, both sounding great, as Morrell's rolling drums saw them open with the album title track, as Summers impressive wah-wah salvo was well and truly matched by Salisbury's swirling solo. It was more of the same on their eponymous album opener, its AOR hook nicely bedding in the smart white and black shirted Sebbage for his 75 minute vocal stint. 'I Lose Again' demonstrated the versatility of Mike's range, with Steve duly delivering its driving Jimi vibe, followed by Salisbury and Summers funkier riffs on, 'I Don't Belong Here'.
"Any Jethro Tull fans here tonight?" Sebbage teased (who penned nine of the eleven debut songs). Cue a number of excited raised hands from the now packed crowd, as the band fittingly covered the classic 'A New Day Yesterday' from 'Stand Up'. Difficult to believe that it was released 54 years ago! It was then back to the new album and 'Waiting For The Kill' and yet another opportunity for the trilby hatted Salisbury to showcase his pinkies, as was his homage to the (Jon) Lord on the Deep Purple vibe of 'Where I Wanna Be', with Summers similarly worshipping at the alter of Mark II, and a solo that Richie himself would have been proud of.
'What They Call The Blues' inevitably slowed things down, and a chance for the red capped, shades-less White, to come to the fore, on this second single from the album, release on halloween no less, although there was nothing scary about Summers Trower-like wah-wah solo, as there similarly wasn't on the rockin' riff of 'A Perfect Afternoon', with both Ian and Steve getting back into the groove on this album closer.
Thankfully, this wasn't the set closer though, given the slower 'Whispering Rain', wonderfully dripping with both the aforementioned Larry Miller, plus the similarly missed Gary Moore, as the 'S' trinity of Sebbage, Summers and Salisbury, duly combined to make this the stand out of the night for mine. This concluded the airing of nine of the eleven album tracks, although they fitted in 'Heartbreak Guaranteed', "one that didn't make the cut", before a sumptuous cover of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s ‘Ain’t No Love In the Heart Of The City’, although better known by the Bad Company version.
Slightly behind schedule, the band stayed on stage for their well deserved encore, 'I'm Ready', that brought this thoroughly enjoyable set to a rockin' end. Indeed, it was a long road home for me from Putney after this gig, but it was well worth it. Make sure you don't miss out on Long Road Home next year, when they are the mouthwatering Tuesday Blues meat in the Aynsley Lister/Mojo Preachers sandwich, at London's 100 Club on 30th January. See you there.