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Erja Lyytinen - The Live Rooms, Chester 23.09.2017

With the newly-refurbished L2 room at The Live Rooms in Chester turned into an intimate, candle-lit 'speakeasy' for the evening, the truly excellent Finnish guitarist, Erja Lyytinen, and her superb band delivered a stunning 90-minute set that enthralled all present – drawing mainly from the current “Stolen Hearts” release, and some choice covers.

The lovely lady from Helsinki is known mainly for her mastery of slide guitar, but showed she has a lot more in her armoury - a soulful, passionate voice, with some dynamic slow Blues playing and more! Apart from Erja Lyytinen herself, the band comprised Harri Taittonen (Hammond and piano), Juha Verona (bass) and Kai Jokiaho (drums) – all from her home country – with the excellent sound engineer Mikko Kiviniemi making it sound good!

The set started with the lovely “City Of Angels”, but really caught fire with the pairing of the Blues shuffle “Everything's Fine” and the funky as it comes “Black Ocean”; the slow Blues of “Slowly Burning” featured some absolutely stunning guitar work.

A brace of fine covers were played back-to-back – firstly the late Chicago Blues queen Koko Taylor's “I'm A Woman” - her answer to the Blues standard “I'm A Man” - complete with some sparring with the Hammond of Harri Taittonen; and a rip-roaring romp through Jimi Hendrix's “Crosstown Traffic”. The rhythm section of Juha Verona and Kai Jokiaho were absolutely as tight as it comes and pushed the music along all evening.

Erja 'doffed the cap' to some Blues guitar legends on a smashing delta blues slide piece – with mentions for Mississippi Fred McDowell, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt and more, before the main set ended with the fabulous “Rocking Chair” from “Stolen Hearts”.

A standing ovation ensued before Erja and the band returned for well-deserved encores. What a treat they were too. Firstly a quite beautiful performance of Curtis Mayfield's timeless “People Get Ready”, with a lengthy “Steamy Windows” - from the pen of Louisiana legend Tony Joe White, and famously covered by Tina Turner – to round off a most memorable evening.

Here's to a return to this most talented lady and her brilliant band – in the main room next time I would suggest!

Review - Grahame Rhodes

Photos - Jeff Price

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