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Review from 'BLUES REVIEW'

Blues Cruise -PlugnPlay, Reading 17 June 2011

Reading is better known for its annual rock festival than for blues but this year's blues festival has thrown up some interesting bands. One of the highlights of this years lineup was the performance of Blues Cruise at the PlugnPlay studios.

I last saw this lot over 20 years ago when they were dominating the local scene. Eventually they grew to be a more soulful big band with a brass section but I'm glad to see them doing what they do best as a sweaty, gritty 4 piece. Sweaty is the optimum word as the venue was literally dripping by the end of the evening when Blues Cruise took to the stage. They had been preceded by an excellent reggae band Jules and the Jacuzzis who played some very pleasant soft reggae grooves. Lovely singer and a drummer who certainly knew his chops.

Blues Cruise are now older and greyer than I last saw them and into their middle age, (you know, when your age starts to show around your middle), but they've lost none of their bite and put in a blistering performance. They focus on the hard, Texas style blues style mostly with some excellent ZZ Top covers plus some good old pub rock based classics from the likes of Dr Feelgood. Little Pete Evans showed he's the master of the slide guitar aided by his trusty slide 'Excalibur'. Neil Packman blew up a mess of blues on the harp and added some solid rhythm guitar. Bass guitarist Chris Hyatt looked like one of Busted's dads in his 3/4 lengths and tattoo but we'll excuse this lack of sartorial elegance on the sauna-like surroundings. He broke a string (yes, on a bass!) which shows the level of commitment and drive these boys have. Drummer Ryan Dobson is the new boy but is settling in well.

I liked the venue. It's a bit off the beaten track hidden away on an industrial estate but is bound to attract attention once the word gets around.

Go and see Blues Cruise. They play it hard. They play it with feeling. They play it well.