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.