New Jersey based blues heavyweights The Billy Walton Band deliver an up close and personal show at the O2 Academy 2 in Newcastle.

The internationally travelled five-piece outfit are currently on an extensive UK run that includes a high profile main stage appearance at HRH Blues in Sheffield. Having been regular visitors to the North East of England and its prominent blues club circuit over the years, tonight the group make their first appearance at the city’s O2 Academy venue.

The Billy Walton Band have always been a firm favourite among Tyneside’s blues-rock aficionados. It goes without saying that the band brings with them the infectious sound of the Jersey shore whilst conjuring up images of the likes of the E-Street Band and Southside Johnny. The group also have a lot of fun with it in the process, and tonight is no exception to that rule.

It doesn’t matter whether the Billy Walton Band are performing to thousands on festival stages such as HRH Blues or in more intimate surroundings such as this evenings show, the group put the same amount of passion and enthusiasm into every performance.

With no support act, tonight the Geordie blues rockers are treated to over two hours of live music. This evening’s concert is very much a show of two halves and comprises of a whole raft of both original material and blues covers.

The group performs old favourites such as the rather funky “Forgive and Forget”, good old fashioned rock and roll numbers such as “It Ain’t True” along with teasing the crowd with a taste of what is to come with their astounding new slow blues number “Long Way Down”. There is also room for the occasional cover including their take on Gary Moore’s “Cold Day In Hell”, and it certainly hits the spot.

The Billy Walton Band are a group of musicians who are at the top of their game and come together seamlessly throughout. Tom Petraccaro on Sax and Eric Safka on Keys are the perfect foil to Walton’s blistering fretwork all night long. Not to be outshone by the frontman himself, long-serving bass player William Parish often takes the spotlight with lead vocal duties on a few tracks during tonight’s musical marathon.

One thing the Billy Walton Band is not afraid to do is to really jam, with many extended blues cuts featuring in the second half of the show. This includes the thunderous “Hell N High Water”, the epic “Night Turns Blue” and the beautifully soulful “True Lovin Man”. With its formidable sax infusion, catchy hooks, and dynamic fretwork from Walton, the latter is one of the many highlights of tonight’s show.

Before we know it, over Two hours of music comes to its conclusion with their take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River”. As they say, time flies when you are having fun, and both the band and those present would certainly agree to that sentiment this evening. Within a heartbeat of leaving the stage, the band mingle amongst the crowd to catch up with friends and supporters in the attendance, which is a nice touch indeed.

On the strength of tonight’s show, it’s fair to say that the Billy Walton Band are in top form right now. The end result is that after tonight’s show, the crowd are left feeling anything but ‘blue’.

Billy Walton Band
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Event Date: 11-April-2019

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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