For blues gui­tarist Aidan Con­nell, the launch of his debut album Grio may be an impor­tant occa­sion, but his music career has­n’t exact­ly been short on sem­i­nal moments. Sea­sick Steve hailed him as “the only rock ’n’ roller in town”; he’s played with ven­er­at­ed Cal­i­for­nia band Mazzy Star after Dave Roback took note of the tal­ent­ed young­ster, and praise has come from plen­ty of oth­er sources, such as Jeff Beck.

And now this expe­ri­enced per­former with many years grac­ing stages around the world (he’s just toured the US and South Korea) is back for the launch of Grio at Lon­don’s Bor­der­line. It may be a much-respect­ed venue, but as the imme­di­ate area has suc­cumbed to Lon­don’s obses­sion with huge, cor­po­rate re-devel­op­ment, The Bor­der­line is look­ing increas­ing­ly vul­ner­a­ble and dwarfed by its surroundings.

The two sup­port bands set the scene, first Wang Dang Doo­dle with an enter­tain­ing and upbeat full-on blues set, fol­lowed by South­bound: it is a sur­prise to learn that the band mem­bers only left school a few years ago. This was an assured set of blues and South­ern rock, accom­pa­nied by the pow­er­ful vocals of Tom Ford.

Aidan takes to the stage with his drum­mer Davide Mari­ni and bass play­er Kos­mas Mylon. He opens with Every­thing Else, it’s a no-non­sense gut­sy num­ber with a strong riff and a dri­ving beat. Tak­ing third place on the set list is the sin­gle, I Hate Rock n Roll, prob­a­bly the most imme­di­ate­ly catchy num­ber, which veers into Led Zep­pelin ter­ri­to­ry with its heavy, sexy riff, over­laid with Aidan’s expres­sive vocals.

Although it’s rare to find a band with a shy, retir­ing front man (well, I have actu­al­ly seen one or two), it has to be said that Aidan looks born for the role. Not that he’s putting on the swag­ger, it’s just that he looks gen­uine­ly over­joyed to be up there, per­form­ing live. As the set gath­ers pace, he ups the enter­tain­ment lev­el with some Hen­drix-style gui­tar show­man­ship, play­ing his gui­tar behind his head and with his teeth. It’s a shame the set seemed a tad short, as it would have been good if there had been time for Aidan to fill us in, between songs, on a lit­tle more of the back­sto­ry to Grio. But maybe that was down to the ear­ly cur­few time as the Bor­der­line hosts night club nights.

Aidan ConnellWhat sets Aidan’s music apart is his quest for push­ing the bound­aries of blues. While always respect­ing its tra­di­tions, he likes to explore and mix things up and his mate­r­i­al is influ­enced by Led Zep­pelin, Cream, Hen­drix, Traf­fic and even touch­es of Deep Purple.


WHO: Aidan Con­nell, sup­ports Wang Dang Doo­dle, Southbound
WHEN: 30 Sep­tem­ber, 2015
WHERE: The Bor­der­line, London

To buy Grio click here


Aidan’s record­ing studio: 

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