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Crow Black Chicken @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton (4/2/15)

posted 14 Feb 2015, 05:57 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

The Robin is one of the go to venue’s in the UK for Blues acts and sadly we here at Midlands Rocks don’t get out and cover it as much as we’d like too. So considering I owe my mate Rob Stanley a few favours for coming out and shooting a few shows for me it was about time I got myself down to the Robin to report on one of his favourite genres the Blues. So with an open mind I thought I’d come and check out Irish Blues trio Crow Black Chicken.

I’ve seen opening act Ali Clinton before but as a solo acoustic performance rather than a full electric band that we see tonight. I have to admit that initial performance didn’t overly inspire me it was too laid back although I did think he had a decent vocal. Tonight was a jaw through the floor performance, I was thinking where the hell did that come from and it’s amazing what a difference can be made to songs between electric and acoustic versions. I was totally blown away by this young guitarist’s performance and songs, he may perform the blues but it was a lot rockier than I was expecting and that was where he won me over. The songs had a tight groove and an infectious energy and Clinton’s deep emotive blues gravel vocals had a major impact on me.

The positive buzz surrounding this young guitarist is well founded and he has a good collection of blues powered rock tracks that are sure to appeal to a wider audience than what he’s exposed too tonight. The only downer I could throw on the fire is the band don’t really do much on stage, Clinton has a commanding albeit static stage presence which does tend to make him the focal point for everyone in the audience but there is very little life shown on stage, this may be because they are young, I don’t know, I know the blues isn’t known for extravagant stage performances usually so maybe I’m been overly critical.

I think anyone who likes rock should check Ali Clinton out because his music does cross genres but I know some may be put off by the Blues tag.

Irish Blues trio Crow Black Chicken sure have some major beardage going on, they could definitely give ZZ Top a run for their money. I did approach tonight with a complexly open mind but Crow Black Chicken play very traditional Blues albeit with a strong smoky southern twang the music doesn’t quite hit my spot and I’m left a little lost. As I look around at everyone else and I see heads nodding and feet tapping, I quickly realise that my opinion on the music is very much me myself and I. If I was to judge tonight’s performance based on the audiences responses and not my own feelings, this would be a greatly positive and gushing with applause review.

Unfortunately their very traditional blues didn’t appeal to me at all and whilst I could appreciate that these guys are a solid live act and I can understand why the blues audience really loved this performance, I just don’t get it personally. I think what saved the night for me was vocalist Christy O’Hanlon’s sense of humour he kept popping up with these random and often unrelated to the songs anecdotes that just had everyone laughing throughout the night. I think the Irish humour is what endeared me to them and appreciate them as musicians even if I don’t really enjoy their songs. Some of the tracks did have a cool beat and O’Hanlon has great voice for the blues and whilst they weren’t an overly visual band and there was plenty of dips in momentum, like most blues acts in my experience I do have to applaud the band as whole for putting on a little bit of performance like bass player Stephen McGrath refusing to stand still and of course O’Hanlon injecting some humour into proceedings.

I know I wasn’t the most ideal person to send to a Blues show and I have to admit I spent most the evening looking for the keyboards, hell their wasn’t even a Hammond Organ in sight, but I did approach the show with an open mind and sometimes when a mate calls in a favour you don’t say no!

It was a quiet night at The Robin, so there weren’t many people about so as I left I spotted a fox in the car park happily munching away on an abandoned bag of fish and chips. Now I’d had a few pints and was thinking hmmmm fish and chips, so I squared off against said fox and before things got nasty I explained that I was too tight to go and buy my own bag especially when there was a perfectly good bag lying right here, so we agreed to share and got a bit of ginger love going on. It’s these little bits of extra’s to nights out that can turn bad nights into stories to tell the grandkids although I’m slightly concerned I may now have rabies.