The Krissy Matthews Band
The Krissy Matthews Band continue their UK tour in April to celebrate the release of their first live album 'Live At Freak Valley'. Released today by Proper Records, the live album was recorded at the Freak Valley Festival in Siegen, Germany on 27th May 2016 and it really catches the adrenalin and pure excitement of the band in all their glory. Originally from Oxford, Krissy’s band has often been described as an exciting, high octane, power Rock trio steeped in Blues roots. Twenty four year old Matthews has performed at some of Europe’s most iconic music venues including Ronnie Scott’s, Loreley, Tanzbrunnen and Festa Avante. He’s also opened for many high profile recording artists at the top of their game including Joe Bonamassa, Toto, Gregg Allman and Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Max Maxwell's drum roll intro and Sam Weston's driving bass leaves you in doubt that Krissy Matthews has that 'Feeling For The Blues' on this incendiary opener - Matthews guitar immediately grasping the wrinkly throats of the Blues Police including its lyrics "I wasn't born in 1902 .... I got the feeling for the Blues" - although it's difficult to believe that he penned this track at just the age of fourteen and is still only twenty four. No standing on ceremony here as they immediately launch into the heavy opening bass riff of "I've Been Searching" - another head-banging composition from Krissy showcasing not only that he plays a mean guitar, but also, despite his tender years, that he has already experienced the blues of life's ups and downs - in this particular case, written in respect of an ex-girlfriend. 'All Night Long' is more of the same - written at the age of seventeen - in both subject matter plus another heavy riff with a mid-section guitar solo before Krissy asks the Freak Valley crowd "Do you know Blind Willie McTell?" Matthews then duly opens with an a cappella on 'Searching The Desert For The Blues' - a track he covered and gave his own take on his last studio album 'Scenes From A Moving Window' - before its metamorphosis into one delightful jam - the crowd whooping in delight as Krissy's guitar once again goes into overdrive.
Matthews then poses the question: "Siegen - are you ready to rock" - as another self-penned Blues Rock corker 'Language By Injection' - written about a night out in Poland when touring - nudge nudge wink wink - delivers as promised. Krissy then shares a special personal moment with Freak Valley - "Seven years ago I was very lucky to meet the King of the Blues - Mr. B.B. King - and this is a song I wrote later that night" - cue 'The Soul Will Never Die' including both a two minute opening guitar solo that the great man - God bless him - would have been proud of - plus another towards the end which hears the German crowd roar with approval. Maxwell's pounding drum heralds the boppin' 'Bad Boy' - another Matthews composition - before the man himself introduces his engine room: "on bass guitar, all the way from London - give it up for the sexy, the fabulous, Mr. Sam Weston" before Weston's obligatory bass solo kicks in, followed by "on the drums all the way from the Blues capital of the UK - Studley Green - the sexiest man in Germany right now - Max Maxwell" - cue obligatory drum solo before Matthews rounds things off with some more scintillating fretwork. Their Freak Valley set closes with a cover of Hendrix's 'Freedom' - now back as a staple on their live set list - a favourite with Matthews as this guitar tribute to Jimi truly demonstrates.
Despite its title 'Live At Freak Valley', the last bonus three tracks on the album were recorded live in Germany, but actually at Gerd's Juke Joint in Joldelund a month earlier. Maxwell's drum opens the brief rock 'n roll number 'Hit The Rock', the title track from their 2011 album, which also sees the welcome introduction of some honky tonk keys, although Matthews once again steals the show with a rockin' guitar solo on a track written oddly enough about the band's tour van crashing in Norway six year's earlier. The Country sounding 'Roadsick Blues' is a defining track for mine on this CD. Live albums rightly or wrongly get the tag of a sort of "Best Of Collection". In other words, you generally have already heard the studio track on an album before you buy its live counterpart. 'Roadsick Blues' for mine, would not be a studio track that I would go out of my way to purchase, but the shear infectious nature of this live track and the rest of 'Live At Freak Valley' has exactly the opposite effect, in that it makes you really want to go and see these guys live even if you don't own one of their studio albums - testament to our love of live music. Also love the lyric "You can take the man off the road, but you can't take the road off the man!" Yee-haw! It's a bit of a cliche, but they actually save the best for last with 'Bubbles And The Seven Phones' - Matthews fitting ten minute memorial to his friend - with its additional fusion of a beautiful Hammond organ before Krissy takes it away with another glorious guitar solo. If there was ever an album to get the message across about keeping music live - then this is it. Can't wait to see these guys in action at London's Fiddler's Elbow in Camden this Wednesday!