When the elements come together and the stars perfectly align, you have to take full advantage of the moment. Such is the situation Rachel Morrison and Tom Morrison found themselves in earlier this year: a chance encounter with a group of Brazilian musicians provided the ideal combination to reinvent Bliss, the band that she so successfully created in the late 80s and which has been part of Rachel and Tom over the years.
The story goes that in March this year, a jam night at one of their favourite pubs, The Bohemia in north Finchley, started innocuously enough but then the house band invited Rachel and Tom to play a couple of classic soul numbers with them – and the magic just happened. Such was the chemistry, Rachel and Tom asked the Brazilian outfit if they would join them for some gigs and now Bliss is back, centre stage. A new energy is born. As a friend whispered to me at the start of this latest performance, “Rachel is on fire”.
The Bliss gig at Nambucca this week demonstrated Bliss’s power and extraordinary energy.
Rachel and Tom allow us to ease gently into the set with an acoustic and focused start: three of their own compositions including the creepy Stalker, plus Paul Weller’s You Do Something to Me. As for the evening’s star herself, it is evident that the power and control of Rachel’s expressive and soulful voice remain a force.
The full band set followed, and gradually things start to ramp up. Set wise, Bliss decide to showcase a collection of their own compositions, peppered with some soul and blues classics. Positive Reaction provides just that, it’s a slinky, sexy and playful blues number written by Rachel and Tom. Sixties classic Your Good Thing perfectly showcases Rachel’s soaring vocals; there’s plenty of scope for interpretation and the band exploit this to the full.
Rachel casually reveals on stage that they have only had four rehearsals. It is all quite gobsmacking – but it’s precisely the novelty and freshness of it all that is driving this reincarnation. And it is also allowing them to approach classic soul numbers like I’d Rather Go Blind and produce something vibrant rather than stuck in a timewarp.
My personal favourite is Liberty, one of Rachel and Tom’s earlier penned songs, with drummer Reynaldo Migliavacca Neto on box drum; the song has a mystical, smokey, psychedelic feel (Julie Driscoll could have done with this number as a follow-up to This Wheel’s on Fire) and it brings a different vibe to the set. I Hear you Call is the closing number – a powerful anthemic swagger of a song with echoes of Janis Joplin in the lush vocal delivery (it is also the number that the house band remember from the time it was a hit in Brazil).
It’s been a lengthy set, but we are left wanting more, which is how it should be. Hopefully new dates are being lined up as we speak.
Rachel Morrison – vocals | Tom E Morrison – guitars | Edu Bisa Bisogno – keyboards | Kita Steuer – bass/ bv | Reynaldo Migliavacca Neto – drums
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