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Erja Lyytinen

Artists: Erja Lyytinen, Ashley Sherlock

Venue: Blackpool, The Waterloo Bar

Date: 11th April 2024

"Talking to fans after the show they all were in agreement that this was a tremendous show from the entire band, with Erja Lyytinen being one of the finest guitarists people had seen in a long, long time."


(c) Louise Newiss
(c) Louise Newiss

I’ve been struggling with a serious back injury since Christmas which has limited the amount of live shows I’ve been able to attend in the last few months. There was no way I was going to let it stop me seeing the highly rated Erja Lyytinen however, who has been described by better writers than me as the “Queen of the slide guitar.” This show had the added bonus of featuring Ashley Sherlock in support, an artist who produces his own unique brand of soulful Blues music, and today he was appearing solo with a semi acoustic set to warm up tonight’s crowd.

This was my first encounter with Ashley Sherlock and it won’t be the last. Sherlock turns out to be a personable chap indeed and his song introductions raise both amusement and nodding awareness from the audience in that his material is highly relatable to the average person in the street. If you add into the mix songwriting of the highest quality, combined with a huge vocal range and an intricate and intimate style of guitar playing, it’s clear he is the complete package. Highlights for me included ‘If You’re Listening’ and ‘Realise’, but his new material shone through for me as well and I look forward to making his acquaintance again.

Erja Lyytinen and her band make an almost low-key entrance to the stage and are immediately into the opening song ‘Diamonds On The Road’ from the excellent ‘Waiting For The Daylight’ album. This track is a slower paced heavy Blues song and it’s immediately apparent that these guys are musicians of the highest quality. Lyytinen sounds even more melodic vocally in the flesh than on record and it’s pretty apparent we are about to witness something special. We are straight into ‘Rocking Chair’ with its insistent and pounding back line perfectly matched with solo after solo and a more “metalled up” feel to the song compared to the artist’s earlier output. ‘Bad Seed’ is my favourite song of the night. An old school slide guitar blues anthem that immediately has the whole crowd rocking and clapping along to the music. Lyytinen has never sounded better and Heiki (bass) and Sami (drums) provide the perfect accompaniment.

‘Black Ocean’ is a complex and heavy track that both changes pace and styles with abandon, while ‘Runaway’ and ‘Last Girl’ really give me the opportunity to study the singer. She is clearly having a whale of a time and her effervescent personality brings the entire audience willingly along for the ride, clearly being under her spell right from the start of the show. The guitar playing is amazing and she effortlessly switches styles at whim, never missing a note and leaving the onlooker almost mesmerised at the skills on display here.

‘Waiting For The Daylight’ is the title track from the last album and deftly displays the switch from traditional Blues to a more Heavy Metal aura to the proceedings, while ‘Lullaby’ is new to me and is an amazing piece of music with a huge variety of styles on offer within the song. It is easily the best received song of the night and it is clear to see why these musicians are so highly lauded by both fans and peers. ‘You Talk Dirty’ has the packed-out venue bouncing and we quickly segue into ‘Lover’s Novels’ which is a smoky and seductive classic traditional Blues song. We finish with ‘Wedding Day’, but the band quickly return for an amazing cover of the Hendrix classic ‘Crosstown Traffic’ with so many different guitar playing styles on display it is almost dizzying. ‘The End Of Music’ brings the event to a close and is a beautiful way to finish the evening. It’s a slower paced, traditional Blues track that almost veers into Country, all the while being deeply moving and affecting.

Talking to fans after the show they all were in agreement that this was a tremendous show from the entire band, with Erja Lyytinen being one of the finest guitarists people had seen in a long, long time. Ian Fletcher and his team at the Waterloo are doing an amazing job at attracting artists of this calibre to the venue and for me this is now the premier intimate music venue in the country. Amazing stuff.


Review: Graeme Wright Photos: Louise Newiss


Gallery: All photos © Louise Newiss (used with kind permission)




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