A singer is only as good as the band that they assemble, and powerhouse blues/rock vocalist Sari Schorr has put together one of the most potent bands I’ve seen in a long time. That’s not to say her previous band were lacking in the ability department either. After all, any band with Innes Sibun on guitar will make you lift your head up from your pint, but this new line up is something special. Ash Wilson on guitar for starters, eh? Given that he had a successful solo career, Wilson must have seen the potential in this band to make the decision to step out of the spotlight for a while. The lush Hammond skills from Bob Fridzema were a key part in the King King sound, bassist Mat Beable has a wealth of experience (you might have caught him with Stevie Nimmo), and drummer Roy Martin has been a highly respected session musician for decades now. Together, the five have gelled into a world-class outfit, and luckily, the Edinburgh Blues Club managed to catch them before they head over to mainland Europe for a few months.
The title of Schorr’s debut album best sums up her vocal talents; ‘A Force Of Nature’. At times raw and gritty, at others gentle and emotional, it certainly is a stand out debut, and thankfully, Sari Schorr in a live environment is even more powerful. With moves like Tina Turner (and, in turn, Mick Jagger), Schorr is swept away by the music and is a joy to watch as she shimmies across the small stage, making sure that she reaches everyone in the packed room. Within a few moments of opening track ‘Revolution’, it’s clear to everyone present that there is real chemistry between the band members. This is a blues club remember, so every guitar solo or fill from Wilson is met with loud cheers and rapturous applause. You can see punters studying his every move, watching his pedal work, soaking it all in. Fridzema has his own cheering section as well, when he gets his moment in the spotlight and delivers some stunning keyboard work. Again, the applause is rapturous. The set is a mixture of tracks from the debut, covers, and a few sneak peeks at new material. ‘Damn The Reason’ stands out with its slow, sultry beginning that grows into a fiery blues rock anthem. ‘Cat And Mouse’ has a sweet little funk groove with some neat effects from Wilson, and ‘Demolition Man’ is all about the swing, especially the intro from Fridzema, who also plays a big part in ‘Oklahoma’. ‘Kiss Me’ was a great highlight from ‘A Force Of Nature’, and live it grows legs into this monster, with swirling guitar solos and a towering vocal performance from Sari Schorr. Wilson takes over the lead vocal, as the band take a jaunty little stroll through ‘Peace & Love’ from Wilson’s acclaimed debut album ‘Broken Machine’. The crowd’s feet are tapping, heads are bobbing. Sari Schorr is watching from the wings as the band flex their muscles, and it’s a rather enjoyable few minutes. With a new album due later this year, we are treated to the world premiere of ‘Maybe I’m Foolin’. If the album is half as good as this beauty, Sari Schorr will have a firecracker in her arsenal. A damn fine song.
One of the songs that brought Schorr to a lot of people’s attention was her incredible cover of Leadbelly’s ‘Black Betty’. Tonight she introduces the song by saying that she is always unsure if she should play it or not. The pressure of performing such a memorable song, and doing it justice, seems to weigh heavy on her mind. Her worries are completely unfounded as she totally knocks it out of the park. There’s a truly a hair-raising moment when the band crash in after the brooding intro. One of the meatiest, heaviest covers you are likely to hear. The band have been trying out a cover of Bad Company’s ‘Ready For Love’. It’s still in the infancy stage, so Schorr has the handwritten lyrics at her feet if required. It’s a stellar version of a bona fide rock classic, as is the rollicking run through of ‘Rock & Roll’, which Martin counts the band in for easily the most recognisable drum intro in rock… period. Schorr has an old school Robert Plant-like aura about her. It’s hard to imagine her doing anything else but throwing shapes on stage as she unleashes one incredible vocal after another. Some performers are just born for the stage, and she is certainly one of them.
After a few weeks around Europe, Sari Schorr returns to the UK for a performance at HRH Blues in Sheffield, followed by more dates in Germany, before landing back on UK shores for a string of dates in May. Do not miss this band whatever you do.
All tour dates can be found here.
More information on Edinburgh Blues Club here.
Review: Dave Stott
Images: Callum Scott