The Hunter Club, Bury St Edmunds March 17, 2022
by Adam Aiken
Just a few days after appearing on the bill for The Room, Danny R & Paul Gillings warm things up nicely in this gem of a club.
The Lowestoft duo, on acoustic guitar and harmonica, are a sharp double-act. Their catchy set is punctuated by well-timed humour between their songs, which live up to their billing of “gritty roots and blues”.
When Rivers Meet are the main attraction tonight, of course. If you didn’t know it beforehand, you certainly do the moment you walk in – it’s like being at a WRM fashion show. Whoever’s in charge of their merchandise should be on a nice fat bonus.
But it’s good that the crowd comprises the diehards – people who’ve been waiting a long time to see the full band on stage, in the flesh.
WRM have already had some post-lockdown real-life gigs to complement their online shows, but their tour with King King featured just Aaron and Grace Bond.
Tonight’s warm-up ahead of their own Flying Free headline tour is the whole band – well, it should be the whole band, but it nearly all didn’t happen when the lurgy struck and left them without a drummer.
But keyboard player James Fox has saved the day, taking the vacant seat behind the drum kit and – after just a single rehearsal, apparently – nailing the whole thing perfectly.
While Fox and bassist Roger Inniss – a smiling bundle of joy all night – hold down the bottom end, Grace and Aaron shine at the front.
Did I Break The Law is the perfect opener, with Aaron’s simple riff setting the scene for a set jam-packed with blues at its catchiest.
My Babe Says That He Loves Me enjoys pitch-perfect harmonies while Never Coming Home, with its earworm of a chorus, is another high point.
It’s clearly a big night for WRM, and emotions come to the fore when an emotional Grace – whose vocals are brilliant all night – sheds a tear as she tells us how much tonight means to them.
The connection between Aaron and Grace is apparent throughout the show: they have more on-stage chemistry than Mick and Keef (although, to be fair, being married probably helps).
The menacing groove of We Fly Free followed by Want Your Love close the main set, before Testify (those catchy harmonies again) and Innocence Of Youth bring a triumphant night to a close.
The Hunter Club might be unfamiliar to those who don’t live in the immediate vicinity, but it’s a cracking little venue. Pub prices rather than rip-off large-venue prices help, but the clincher is the superb sound production. And that, combined with the excellent performance of the Bonds and friends, makes this a night to remember.
Perhaps it’s not quite ready to be filed away alongside Aerosmith playing the Marquee, but WRM are a band going places – and the time might yet come when we look back at this show and smugly boast “We were there”.
When Rivers Meet, with support from Troy Redfern, start their UK tour next month, including sellout shows in Norwich and Colchester. Click here for tickets for the other dates.