John Etheridge has played top-level guitar in a striking array of contexts and styles. There can’t be much in the way of high-level guitar playing for which he isn’t the gold standard. The weight and span of his experience was on full display, as was his artistry: his support of Vimala Rowe was precise and attentive as well as expressive; and his solo passages were a show on their own: creative and distinctive, but always apt, beautifully crafted to the nature of the songs.
Vimala Rowe is a revelation—a truly individual singer, who is in full possession of the whole parcel of gifts: magnetic stage presence; a voice with strength and character throughout her range; and very finely judged use of her extensive vocal technique (vibrato; wonderful, deep notes; long, pure-toned sustains; and of course, the dizzy heights.) The word ‘soulful’ is often bandied about, but this was the real thing. And for all of the variety of material (including a few of Vimala Rowe’s own compositions), the sheer verve, consistency and sure-footed performing joy these two exuded made both sets a seamless delight.
There’s only one response to music-making as engaging and moving as this: ‘Play all night!’ Would that they had. No one would have budged.
J Whitman 29.02.2016