Rebecca Downes and her band tear it up in Billericay
Friday night is always a good shout for a gig, simply because there is no better opportunity to let your hair down. Friday the 18th of March was no different. I clocked out of work at 6:05 and I couldn’t get home quick enough, I was content to stay at home for the evening – red wine and detective drama. That was until my dear friend Boogie Bill gave me a call, of course we already had plans, tonight we were going to descend upon the New Crawdaddy Club in Billericay. It was time for Rebecca Downes.
I was tempted, as I’ve been there a few times before, and its only half an hour up the road. The thing is we were looking forward Joe Bonamassa on Sunday all the way down in Bournemouth and the week had been long enough as it was. But let me tell you, I do not need to be asked twice to see Rebecca Downes. Especially seen as Rebecca and her band had probably made some journey to come and play in Billericay tonight. And even more especially given that Rebecca’s new album is another of the line of superb albums to hit the market from young British blues artists recently.
We like to leave it late, Boogie Bill is fashionable like that, so we hit the New Crawdaddy Club at around 8:30. For those of you that have not been before its a medium-sized venue, set in the bar of the local football club Billericay Town FC. There is a big enough bar and enough staff to get served, and the make-shift stage is set in front of rows of seating, with the only bad views in the house behind two pillars that hold the ceiling up. The room doesn’t appear to lend itself to good acoustics but I’ve been proved wrong at gigs in the past so I will keep an open mind.
The club itself is run by volunteers who are led by Paul Dean who formed the club in 1999, they’re selling raffle tickets and its rude not to, especially as there is a bottle of wine and some chocolates in the draw. Paul was in fact part of the warm up act The Heaters who are the house band for want of a better phrase, they played a number of blues classics and no doubt many of the crowd were looking forward to their set just as much.
Rebecca’s band hit the stage around 9:15, or for anyone doesn’t use a clock – about three beers in. They dive straight into the riff of Never Gonna Learn, the opener from Rebecca’s new album Believe, a very driven song with a nice riff. The type of track original enough to stand out, but also catchy like you’ve heard it a thousand times before. Rebecca has a strong band consisting of Steve Birkett on guitar, Dan Clark on bass, Lloyd Daker on drums and Rick Benton on keys. After around 45 seconds Rebecca hits the stage, and we are off!
Wearing a fur coat and some heels (not just that) she immediately launches into song, much to the appreciation of the Billericay crowd. Her voice is refreshing to the British Blues scene – not trying to over do it, but keen to show you her vocal potential. Rebecca’s song choices compliment her voice, and likewise her voice is supported by a tremendously capable team up there with her.
Rebecca effortlessly flows through the majority of her new album including popular tracks like Night Train, Sailing On A Pool Of Tears and the title track and single Believe. Rebecca talks to the crowd between songs, the first time the crowd are taken aback by her strong midlands accent – to be expected of course, but still hits you as hard as her powerful vocals.
The band are clearly enjoying themselves, Lloyd Daker the youthful drummer never stops smiling – its good to see someone enjoy their work. Bass Man Dan Clark who from 40 yards away looks like a spitting image of Channing Tatum, a little less up close, helped form the perfect rhythm section. Rick Benton had some fantastic keyboard parts and you feel like this lot could almost have been in the studio.
Steve Birkett almost stole the show a few times with his guitar beautiful solos, he also has to take a lot of credit for being a co-songwriter on what are some really stunning tracks. Whilst Rebecca was the icing on the cake she was by no means just there for decoration, her vocals had substance, character and a determination to succeed. I guess that’s why she is in Billericay miles from home on a Friday night!
Rebecca Downes and her band were the most capable and comfortable band I have seen here since Aynsley Lister at the beginning of last year, an adequate blend of experience and youth in the band that produces some great results. The crowd were really responsive to Rebecca and it was a really good turnout for her, just a matter of days after Night Train appeared on the Paul Jones Show on BBC Radio 2.
Rebecca is well worth a listen, but more importantly she is well worth a watch. The chance to see a band in harmony cannot be missed, and I am really pleased that Boogie Bill did his brother thing and dragged me out into trouble. Rebecca is doing some gigs in the coming months with King King (wow!) so I’d suggest you find out some more details by clicking here. Seriously – get yourself out of the house and see the Rebecca Downes band live as soon as possible, you will not regret it! In the meantime check out our brief video below.
Have you seen Rebecca before? Let us know how you got on in the comments below. Let us know any gigs we might have missed by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting us on Twitter @bluecafeblog. Find out about all of this week’s gigs by clicking here.