Beating The Storm
Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton brought their tour to support their excellent album Death Wish Blues (review HERE!) over to the UK and stopped off at the iconic Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow. They picked a great time to do so as a major storm was ripping through the parts of the country which meant there were no train services from many places in Scotland and there were roads blocked by debris etc all over the place. Despite all that a very healthy crowd turned up in what is the biggest venue that Samantha has played in Scotland (each time I have seen her it is in a bigger venue). Unlike all the other tours this one she was working in cahoots with another singer, guitarist and writer Jesse Dayton.
They and their band played an extensive set covering their album together and the previous EP along with some covers making for a very interesting and entertaining evening. One of the first things that was noticeable was the respect that both Samantha and Jesse have for each other. They also really showed support to each other, egging the audience on when the other played a tasty solo or did some fine vocals.
Throughout the set they were definitely adding little touches to songs, giving even more texture and flavour to the evening, whether it was added guitar licks under a vocal or extra harmonies. I personally noticed more musical things than on the recordings, which was much appreciated. There were also times when the 2 of them (backed by a terrific band) were winding each other up (in a good way) encouraging each other to explore solo-wise. No competition here, just artists who enjoy each other’s styles and musicianship.
A Look At The Set
They opened the main set with a cover not on the album or EP which I found interesting. “Kick Out The Jams” the old MC5 number was a solid choice to get things underway. Samantha led vocally on the verses (I noticed on certain end phrases Jesse would join in). They also played short solos (Jesse going first) on this and some other tracks. For “Deathwish” once again it was Samantha on lead vocal verse-wise with them both harmonising on the “na na na’s“. There was no need to ask the crowd to clap along as they did so immediately. This kicked harder for me live with added riffs, and I love the album version!
“Feelin’ Good” was the first to feature Jesse on lead vocal. What a great voice, deep and rich. My first time hearing what he was capable of properly. There were plenty of looks and quips in the vocals between them both which were a ton of fun to watch. The guitar interaction was a delight, it was very playful, they were enjoying themselves and that was rubbing off on the audience.
After a few songs, Samantha addressed the crowd with a cheery Southern “how ya’all doing” followed by an explanation of what we were watching, including the comment “in case anyone just came off the street by accident and is wondering” which created some laughs. Like the album the mix of styles thrown in is impressive whether it be rock ‘n’ roll, surf rock, rockabilly, blues and country to name a few they performed. They and the band proved themselves to be adaptable and managing to hit high standards on each genre.
A Couple From Samantha’s Previous Albums
We did get a couple of songs from Samantha‘s back catalogue in firstly “Hello Stranger” from 2017’s Chills & Fever album and “Bulletproof” from 2019’s Kill Or Be Kind, the latter allowing her to break out the cigar box guitar. On the latter Samantha stood back to allow Jesse to throw in a cracking solo of his own before she played a slide solo. Having Jesse also on guitar added an extra edge in fact to both songs with the former having a gentle jangly guitar part floating in and out. Very nice indeed.
Sublime AND Joyous
“Brand New Cadillac” has a 60s surfer vibe mixed with straight ahead old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, the latter exemplified by Samantha‘selectrifying guitar solo. It rocked! In fact during the funky “Down In The Mud” Jesse pointed to Samantha and asked her to “get down” before she hit another sublime solo. One of my personal favourite tracks came over brilliantly live, that being “Settle For Less” which was joyous. I loved the opening with Jesse keeping the guitar down low sound wise with the drummer playing the rim with his sticks and Samantha clicking her fingers slowly taking us into the groove. The chorus is catchy as hell and plenty of folks near me were singing (and grooving) along.
Feeling The Words
There were 2 songs in particular which allowed us all to enjoy the strength and depth of Samantha‘s vocals. On “No Apology” she was hitting some delicious high and long notes especially when the song dropped down (again Jesse added some little guitar lines giving extra depth to the song). In fact, at one point as she finished a long note she laughed, looked around and said “phew“. Her performance on “I Put A Spell On You” was jaw-dropping. Emotion, power, passion and sensitivity in equal amounts. You could feel the lyrics in the delivery. Wonderful stuff.
During Arthur Lee‘s song “7 And 7 Is” they started jamming and at one point went into another piece of music which I recognized but could not place. During this one of the drum mikes on the riser fell over and Jesse went over and tried to replace it whilst the song was ongoing. I think he thought he had managed it but it fell off again and he realised when he saw a roadie run on. He just had a grin on his face whilst shrugging his shoulders almost saying “well I tried”. Something I did notice live that I hadn’t from listening to the album is that the main riff on “Supadupabad” has a hint of the classic Alex Harvey track “Midnight Moses” which seemed appropriate for being in the Barras in Glasgow.
There are so many other songs and moments that I could mention (including a lovely acoustic section), but this would be like War And Peace in length 😂. Suffice to say this was a terrific gig all round. At one point Samantha remarked “we’re having a great time” and that showed. The good news is that the audience was also having a blast.
This was certainly a different show to normal for probably both I imagine, but I really wouldn’t be against them doing something similar again in the future should their schedules allow. They work beautifully together and the talent between them (and the band) is off the charts.
A Shout Out To The Support
Before I wrap up I do want to make mention of the support for the night and tour, The Commoners. The band from Toronto Canada played a fine set of songs, many of them new, not yet recorded. Their influences without a doubt include The Black Crowes, The Allman Brothers and Free. They do go into country rock at points as was easily noticeable on “Restless” which they said will be the title track of their next album. I did like the bluesy refrain of “Just How It Is” in the backing vocals.
If I heard them right in another new song “The Way I Am” which was a harder rocking piece they also had the word “restless” in it. It could perhaps be a theme throughout the album. “Fill My Cup” from the album they have out was particularly good and had the longest guitar solo of their set. The singer grooves away merrily on the tracks he isn’t playing rhythm guitar. They went down very well with the crowd that is for sure and are definitely a band to watch out for in the future.
Thank you to photographer John Brown for the kind use of his pictures.
The UK tour continues throughout October with dates in York, Cambridge, Bournemouth, Bexhill, Birmingham and London. Purchase Tickets HERE