James Hunter at The Cellars, Eastney

James Hunter
James Hunter
Cabbage will be playing in Castle Road at 1pm

Check out the exclusive vinyl and live music for Record Store Day down at Pie & Vinyl in Castle Road

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Question: What do you get if you put an awful lot (six well-built men, two saxophones, drums, bass, guitar and an organ) into a very small space (the stage at Portsmouth’s unsung music pub, The Cellars)? Answer: a very good night.

James Hunter and his band have been doing their bluesy thing for a couple of decades.

The band have appeared on Later with Jools Holland, topped US album charts and collaborated with Van Morrison. Not a bad CV.

Hunter’s pedigree was certainly evident on Friday night: this dose of old-school blues and R ‘n’ B came as a welcomed ministration at the end of a testing week (I managed to drown a goldfish and lost money spread-betting on The Apprentice).

The whole set was a highlight: the organist’s manic solo on Jacqueline; Hunter’s frantic fingers reacting to the strings of his guitar as if they were molten; the entrancing and fundamental rhythms of bass and drums; the silky bursts of sax; and, of course, Hunter’s memorable vocal performance, which ranged from James Brown in tight trousers to a brooding, love-bitten Elvis.

In short: a first-rate band and a first-rate gig.

Evidence once again that Portsmouth can ill-afford to lose the Cellars.