Following the Blues Caravan show almost a year ago to the day here at the Harmonie the question was – ‘Is Bonn ready for ‚More Girls with Guitars’?‘ The packed house that turned out was an emphatic YES! And Dani Wilde, Sam Fish and Victoria Smith, aided by drummer Denis Palatin, rewarded them with an explosive set of hard hitting music on high heels.
The Harmonie has been a popular venue for the RUF Blues Caravan – musicians and fans alike – for a good few years now. It’s even been the setting for live DVD’s, and in fact there were plans for that this evening. In the end the cameras didn’t roll, which was a good thing perhaps since it’s still very early days on the Tour and clearly the band are still settling in for the new Season. Whilst it’s true that Dani Wilde, Samantha Fish and drummer Denis Palatin already have a hundred or so shows behind them, there is new material from a new release by Dani. In addition, Victoria Smith was stepping into the enigmatic high heels of previous bassist Cassie Taylor. Certainly it will be a hard task joining such a played in formation, not helped by the fact that Smith’s style is far more laid back than her predessor. Maybe if she seemed a little nervous it was therefore understandable. It didn’t stop her being a cracking bass player for the evening though, and her smile certainly grew larger with every song. She also provided nicely edgy vocals for the Lou Reed classic ‘Walk on the Wildside’ (Reed’s show will itself definitely be a highglight in Bonn’s concert calender this coming year)
Last years show here was on 30 January. I know this because Dani pointed out that Samantha Fish was here on her birthday. This year however she was on a long drive to a show in France for her birthday “and France is nice, but it’s not Bonn” as Dani pointed out to great applause – though not as much applause as French drummer Denis Palatin got when he added “This is true!”. Given her still young age it seems odd to think of Dani Wilde as the ‘elder stateswoman’ of the Tour. Perhaps MC (for ‘Mistress Of Ceremonies’) would be better. She certainly does a splendid job talking to the audience with her enthusiasm and that endearingly tiny trace of a lisp in her voice. Despite that sweet voice, when she gets started on the songs, particularly her self penned ones, there’s a flame to match the fiery red dress she wears. Her new CD ‘Juice Me Up’ (watch out for a review coming soon here) is a step up from the last effort – which itself was a pretty good disc. Maybe it’s the material or maybe it’s the extra months since the previous ‘Shine’ but everything about her performance seems more solid. Tonights is a Blues audience but her soulful renditions of Smokey Robinson’s ‘Who’s Loving You?’ and her own ‘Don’t Go Making Me Cry’ brought huge applause.
Now, can you keep a secret? (If your name is Oli Brown, stop reading now) Dani Wilde is a big fan of one of her RUF stablemates and Dani owns up that ‘Juice Me Up’ is inspired by him “I always know when your bands in town, I’ll be down in the front row getting down”. I myself can only say thank you Oli for your inspiration – it’s a rockingly great highlight of the new Dani Wilde CD, and also of the show tonight. As is the song ‘Crazy World’ – inspired by Dani’s visits to Embu in Kenya and the theme of Child Soldiers. Her charity work in the area is greatly motivated by the desire to give children back their childhoods in Africa. It’s a tall order, a heavy theme, and a moving song onstage. Sadly, to my mind at least, there was no place in the set for another ‘heavy Theme’ from Dani’s CD: ‘Burning Truth’ a hard and funky number addressing the English riots last year. I hope that finds the set list soon but between her and Samanthas growing repertoire there’s a lot of super material for these girls to choose from now.
All this singing the praises of Dani Wilde might sound like there was just one diamond sparkling on the Harmonie Stage Tuesday but that is very far from the truth. Samantha Fish is well able to steal the spotlight back, and indeed it’s part of the shows pleasure to see the two girls inspire each other. Did I hear Sam say with a sound of concern at one stage as Dani started up a song “Oh, this one’s just you?”. I think it came shortly after Miss Fish had just mesmerised us all for some ten minutes with her cracking Blues Rocker ‘Wait a Minute Baby’ that was twice as chunky and funky as the disc version and followed it with a bewitching guitar solo on ‘Put a Spell on You’. My personal Sam Fish favourite of the evening was the soulful and sleazy ‘Other Side of the Bottle’ although the sultry, slide driven ‘Louisiana Rain’ comes a close second. She even showed she can command attention offstage as well as on it by hopping shoeless into the massed audience to do a walkabout solo on ‘Runaway’.
Much as I love the Harmonie there is one thing there I hate, no make that ‘HATE!’ – The Curfew. Come 10.35pm and Dani, Sam, Victoria and Denis are almost pleading to come back onstage in answer to the ecstatic applause. I don’t know who was more disappointed, them or us, when the lights had to come on. Will there be an ‘Even More Girls With Guitars’ show next year? I think every one of those who saw this performance will be hope so.
But DON’T tell him…