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Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins

Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins and photographed by Patricia Andrade
 
James Simmins gives top marks for local musician Alexia Coley.
 
Having arrived just in time for the gig, I negotiated my way to the stage area and eventually found an area to stand where I could observe and take notes. With a decent sized crowd in attendance, space was at a premium and I had to go through the classic debacle of being not allowed to sit on any of the copious empty stools, as I was informed upon approach that they were all apparently being “sat on” (reserving empty chairs & tables in bars appears to be a largely English phenomenon, our equivalent to the German habit of reserving sun loungers with their beach towels).

Although Alexia is already well known to many people in the area from her previous stint as a vocalist with the Rotten Hill Gang, her new band has a different, more classically soulful sound. A six-piece band comprising of bass, drums, two guitars, trumpet and sax provide an accomplished backdrop to her powerful yet slightly ‘smoky’ voice.
 Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins and photographed by Patricia Andrade
Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins and photographed by Patricia Andrade
The rhythm section (Matthew Phillip on the drumkit and ‘Fish’ Brown playing bass) kept it simple with a tight, slightly funky, soul groove that kept the show continually grooving along. Over this backdrop, guitarist Ben Goddard chopped out an authentically vintage sounding rhythm and riff selection on an wood finish 
Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins and photographed by Patricia Andrade
telecaster, whilst Marko Kovacevic played accompanying rhythm and wailing lead licks on a slightly fuzzier sounding sunburst Stratocaster. The horn players (Jon Gillies on sax and Richard Watts playing trumpet) switched between well-crafted punctuating riffs and longer underpinning harmonies.

Some songs, such as “Love Me”, have an unmistakeably upbeat Motown-style feel, whilst others such as “Missing You”, with its haunting use of melodic key changes, pay unmistakeable homage to the genius of Otis Redding. “Love at First Sight” has a groove reminiscent of “Keep On Running” by Jackie Edwards, but achieves individuality with a ballsy soul vocal slightly reminiscent of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” and some melodic key changes. “Mr. Shady”, which appears to be a favourite with the crowd, interestingly combines a commandingly soulful vocal with a Cramps-style swamp track, complete with “Batman”-style guitar riff.
Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins and photographed by Patricia Andrade
Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins and photographed by Patricia Andrade
After the band rounded off their eight-track set with soul smoocher “Missing You”, the audience were vocal in demanding an encore. The first extra song , entitled “I Love a Drink” was a more boisterous, anarchic number, with the band letting loose a little more than previously to create what musically sounded a little like  
Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins and photographed by Patricia Andrade
a slightly soulful version of “Salt of The Earth” by the Stones. The second encore “Beautiful Waste of Time” had a really authentic Blues Brothers type feel to the music, overlain with a “Respect”-style vocal. It was also nice to see most of musicians exhibit their solo playing skills as almost everyone played a short solo, culminating in a couple of very cool drum rolls before the full band launched back in for a last big chorus.

Hearing the band playing and Alexia singing at full throttle showed what great promise this band has. Whilst “Mr. Shady“ seems a popular choice, I personally liked the soul-searching ballad “Without You” and the feisty blues track “Momma Says”. Alexia has a powerful presence on stage and the band blend a range of classic styles to good effect, with the potential for many more combinations to come.
Alexia Coley & Band reviewed by James Simmins and photographed by Patricia Andrade
The Mau Mau may not be the largest venue in Portobello, but it does have a good track record for quality live music and from my vantage point in front of the mixing desk, this appeared to again be the case. If you like dancing to classic soul music, or listening to beautiful ballads, these guys are pretty much guaranteed to deliver the goods and they seem to perform totally live (which is refreshing in today’s era of so many bands playing along with backing tracks). Alexia is an emerging talent with a classic soul/blues voice and, with a little assistance, I would not be at all surprised to see her quickly make the transition to a higher level.
 
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Photographs courtesy of Patricia Andrade - http://www.patriciaandrade.co.uk/

 
Find out more about James Simmins:
 
 
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Comments   

#1 JimD 2011-04-07 12:53
great music, excellent performer, really cool band!

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