WITH the rain hammering down relentlessly all day I was relieved that Thunderfest is my kind of festival – indoors, no camping required and only ten minutes from my house.
But joking aside, this is an excellent annual showcase of local talent in one of the city’s best live music venues.
After Thursday night’s rough and ready rock, day two switched the focus to soul and blues and it was a truly memorable night. Kicking off proceedings in the thankless opening slot were The Stone Souls, whose bluesy set of gritty self-penned tracks perfectly set the scene. At times the arrangements seemed a little over-complicated but overall they play a satisfying style of muddy funk.
Next up were the Dragonflies, formerly The Combo, who had brought a sizeable crowd of their own. They notched up the quality with a very strong set of nicely worked out songs which sounded like a classic melting pot of influences – from the Kinks to Kings of Leon via The Jam. They’re confident all-rounders that show huge promise and they certainly deserve a wider audience.
Third on the bill was singer-songwriter Jon Sinnott whose brand of folksy blues made for an enjoyable set. He’s an assured and charismatic performer, whose strongest material were the piano-led numbers towards the end which recalled Billy Joel and Ben Folds with their melodic Americana.
Finally, the headliners Phantom Limb were simply breathtaking. In an intimate venue like this, Yolanda’s soaring gospel vocals are staggering and tonight’s collection of majestic country soul numbers showed why this band are easily the best Bristol has to offer.
Their lengthy tour supporting Rumer earlier this year has clearly stood them in good stead and their musicianship shone through, along with an onstage chemistry.
From the anthemic Gravy Train to their beautiful cover of Dave Rawlings’ Ruby, the audience was spellbound from start to finish. Definitely a performance to remember.
An an honourable mention must go to the crate-digging selection of tunes from DJ Top Rank, whose choices of soul, blues, country, hip-hop and ska sustained the evening’s party atmosphere with aplomb.