Award-winning singer/songwriter Rebecca Downes has built up somewhat of a following in the North East of England over the last few years. In fact, the region has almost become home away from home for the Brummie native.

Many would argue that Rock and Roll is the devil’s music. And the title of Rebecca’s third album More Sinner Than Saint kind of gives you an indication of the direction on the record. Although if you ask Rebecca’s mum she would argue that she is definitely a saint – but the verdict is out.

Having always been typecast as a blues artist, with Rebecca’s latest offering she lets her true self shine through with a more rock orientated release. With the album only a week old, Rebecca and her uber-talented band arrive once again in Teesside and kick off the weekend in style at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton. This show follows on the back of recent tour dates with Brit rockers The Quireboys.

With a new album under her belt, Downes sets the tone for the night ahead as she kicks off the show with “Take Me Higher” – the opening song of her latest offering. With its up-tempo groove and catchy hooks, the crowd are immediately elevated during this euphoric opening.

Many of the tracks featured tonight are so fresh that they’ve only been played live once prior, but based on this performance you would never know it. The title number itself really showcases Rebecca’s beautiful voice. She effortlessly hits the song’s sustained high notes with ease, and it’s incredibly effective in this song.  It’s no surprise that Rebecca was voted Female Vocalist of the Year at the FORM UKBlues Awards.

Being fiercely proud of her new album and rightly so, Downes chooses to include the lion’s share of her latest offering in the set with nine of the twelve tracks on the record featuring. This includes a heartfelt airing of “Breathe Out”, a fiery rendition of “Chains” and a blistering performance of “If I Go To Sleep”. The latter of which features Alan Nimmo on the studio version, but the fact that the King King axeman can’t be in attendance this evening doesn’t seem to cause too many problems for Rebecca’s long-serving guitarist Steve Birkett.

Several of the new songs featured in the set are incredibly personal to Rebecca, and you can tell as she really sinks her heart and soul into her passionate and emotive delivery. Downes thanks her ex’s for the inspiration.

Each of Rebecca’s new song sits perfectly alongside tried and tested old favourites such as the sultry “Fever In The Night”, the incredibly infectious “Night Train” and the rather funky “Sweetness”. Each of these tracks are real earworms – you can’t help but be swept away by their catchy groove.

Being John Bonham’s birthday, it seems only fitting to include a Led Zeppelin cover in the set. And to go with the ongoing theme of tonight’s show “Rock And Roll” feels like a fitting choice. Rebecca’s soaring vocals, Lloyd Dakar’s hard-hitting rhythm and Steve Birkett’s blistering fretwork come together seamlessly on this timeless anthem.

Rebecca brings roughly 90 minute set to a close with her beautiful take on Joe Cocker’s “A Little Help From My Friends”. Having made many strong ties to the North East throughout her career, the sentiment of this classic is one that many in the room relate to.

On the strength of tonight’s show, it’s fair to say that Rebecca Downes continues to go from strength to strength, there is no stopping her.

Rebecca Downes
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Event Date: 31-May-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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