With a new album penciled in for February next year, Erja Lyytinen returns to the UK to give us a taste of what is to come from her currently untitled new album.
Tonight, Erja Lyytinen makes a welcome return to Darlington R’n’B Club, almost twelve months to the day since her last appearance in this very same room. Some slight lineup changes see Antti Ikola on the Hammond filling the gap left by long-standing guitarist Davide Floreno, who is currently out on the Ruf Records Blues Caravan tour. Kai Jokiaho takes the seat behind the drums with Juha Verona on bass rounding out the lineup.
Erja opens the show with some old school blues starting with a fantastic rendition of the Willie Dixon/Howlin Wolf number “Spoonful” before breaking into the slidetastic “Mississippi Callin'”. It’s easy to see why Erja has been dubbed by so many as the “Queen of the Slide Guitar”.
It’s been a few years since Lyytinen’s last studio album, The Sky Is Crying , which is, of course, a tribute to the “King of the Slide Guitar” Elmore James. Erja takes the opportunity to play the title track from the album which she dedicates to her twins, who she dubs as the “blues brothers”. Who knows — maybe they will join their mum’s band later in life; watch out Juha and Antti, but for now their jobs are safe.
Erja whet’s the appetite of the North East blues fans for her future release by including several new tracks in the set, including the stunning “Black Ocean”, the beautiful slow blues number “You Make Me So Sad”, and the rather funky “Physical Reaction”. Last week Erja released the incredibly infectious “Stolen Hearts”, which is the first video to be released from her forthcoming album, and of course this is also included in the set tonight.
Lyytinen slows down the pace with the beautiful “Change of Season”, which also see’s some great interplay with Juha Verona who takes a superb bass solo during the number.
Erja gets up close and personal with her fans during her instrumental number, “Erja’s Contribution to Jazz”. The track takes advantage of her wireless guitar as she makes her way through the audience to the bar, and returns to the room with a shot glass full of whiskey. She proceeds to play slide guitar from the middle of the crowd, much to both her and the audience’s amusement.
Erja closes her set with a slide-fuelled take on the classic Tina Turner number, “Steamy Windows”, which is segues into Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”, leaving the audience wanting more.
The crowd get what they ask for as Erja and the band bring the night to a close with another sublime Elmore James cover in the shape of “Dust My Broom” whereby every member of the group gets their moment to shine.
On the strength of the new material aired here tonight, Erja Lyytinen’s forthcoming release is sure to be one of the standout blues records of 2017. We look forward to more of what is to come from one of Finland’s most popular blues exports.
If you are new to Erja Lyytinen, check out her 2012 album, Songs From the Road, released via Ruf Records.