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Review From Blues In the Northwest – Geoff Achison

by Sam Kelly on October 14th, 2009

Following two very successful years in the United States, Geoff Achison is now resident back in his native Australia. After such a long absence, his return to the UK on an extensive tour has generated considerable excitement and anticipation. It was no surprise, therefore, that the Marina was packed to the gunnels in eager expectation. The party began with a solo acoustic set from Geoff, opening with the fast-moving “Whipping Post”, followed by “Apparatus”, a song that bemoaned the relentless charge of automation, with clever machine-like sounds played on guitar.

The set was completed with a duo of Taj Mahal numbers and a superb, energetic version of “Superstition”. Geoff then introduced The UK Souldiggers: Sam Kelly on drums, Spy on bass guitar and Paul Jobson on keyboards. The upbeat shuffle, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”, led into a funky performance of Muddy Waters’s “Sugar Sweet”, with Spy excelling on slap bass and Paul Jobson delivering a terrific solo. The funky mood was maintained with the excellent ballad, “Crazy Horse” and the upbeat “Rule The World” that featured a brilliant guitar solo. The set was drawn to a conclusion with a funky blues number about the persistent menace of plastic bags.

In the second set, an opening slow shuffle was followed by the boogie-ish “The Natural Fact” that was brought to a climax with another tremendous guitar solo. “Never Give It Up” was wrapped in a reggae beat and culminated in an extended coda that was impeccably driven by Sam Kelly. The only slow blues of the evening came in the form of “The Sky is Crying”, which included a somewhat eccentric guitar solo, while “Souldigger” was played as a breakneck shuffle that built a sensationally tight wall of sound. But the funky joey was not to be suppressed and popped its head out of the pouch with “One Ticket, One Ride”, the title song of Geoff’s latest album.

The set was closed with a marvellous rendition of “Midnight Hour”, embellished by some magical tinkling from Paul Jobson. A loudly demanded encore added icing to an already delicious cake. Geoff Achison is a supreme performer, who is equally at home playing solo acoustic and electric band-based music. In The UK Souldiggers, he could not have hand-picked three better individual musicians to support him, as each is consummately talented while collectively they form a wonderfully tight unit. It was quite simply a top class evening.

Written by Lionel Ross

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