Canada’s ‘Darling of the Blues’ has long since won hearts throughout Europe. So much so that Layla Zoe is now resident in Germany. Wherever she is in the World though Layla Zoe takes two things with her: A wonderful voice, and The Blues. On Thursday she shared these gifts with a large and enthusiastic audience at The Harmonie. Bill Baum also brought along his Bluebenders to make for a full evening of fine music – tinged heavily with Blue naturally…
Bill Baum was of course instantly recognizable when he stepped onstage on the very stroke of 8pm, even without his trademark sunglasses. He even took off his spectacles, but the bright white musical notes on his guitar strap would have given him away even if the slick 50’s Blues he and his band laid down hadn’t. Don’t come to a BaumsBluesbenders concert if you’re looking for some earth shatteringly new Blues sound. Do come however if you appreciate quality classic Blues, and especially if you enjoy hearing quality Bluesharp playing – Uwe Placke is is up there with the best I’ve seen/heard. There was a note unceremoniously deposited on Placke’s harmonica case with just the simple words ’10 Minutes’ on it towards the end of their set. 15 minutes later they were still playing a glorious rendition of a blues classic, and good thing too. Just a pity that live music has to have such chains put on it to end at ridiculously early times,especially when it’s this good.
Jan Laacks was tuning his guitar clad in a blue puffer jacket but the music before Layla’s set started but the sounds he laid down later were hot enough for T-shirts. Layla Zoe has one of the best guitar men in Europe in her band, and the even better news is that he’s from Bonn. Makes me proud to be living here, and Layla’s own show makes me even more proud to be here in Bonn on this fine November evening because the girl is both looking and sounding better than ever. My only complaint is that her knee high leather boots were hiding Tom Waits and co -her wonderful leg tattoos. Janis Joplin on her right arm though was a firm reminder of where this girl gets her fire from.
Layla hits hard from the off with the down and dirty ‘I’ve been down’ and there is plenty of opportunity to dance and clap along to the rockier numbers in her set. It’s really the songs off of her latest CD that catch the attention most though, and as I edited the pictures for this article and played it I was reminder how good the disc actually is. Live I would venture to say the material is even better, and it’s down, for my money at least, to the contribution of Jan Laacks on guitar duties.
The guitar(and pretty well everything else) on the CD is of course Henrik Freischlader so it’s already pretty darn good. Laacks though gives it his own twist – with a hint of jazz even at times on his wonderful solo accompanying ‘Gemini Heart’. This was one of those guitar breaks that you wish would go on forever – and f*ck the 10.30pm deadline! There was also a band jam session built into the evenings set-list. It said very clearly ‘Band Jam (max 5 mins)’ and again I wonder why music has to have these straitjackets when it’s as good as the sounds Laacks, Fischötter (drums) and bassist Sonnberg delivered. A superb band of no frills but bags of emotion.
The jam was followed by the cream (pardon the pun) as Layla took the stage to deliver a stunning version of ‘The Lily’:
“If I should die before you wake,
I pray the Lord my Soul to take,
Take me where the music plays”
On days like this that place is very definitely The Harmonie in Endenich. Certainly, when Layla came back onstage alone after taking a long and deserved applause to dimmed lights and delivered a mesmerizing version of ‘Let it Be’ I thought I actually had died and gone to that place “Where the music plays”.