Mike Hall (Classic Clapton)

Huntingdon Hall, Worcester – Friday 7th November


CLASSIC CLAPTON the World’s No1 Eric Clapton Tribute Band featuring front-man Mike Hall will be making a welcome return to Worcester in November.  This time they will be celebrating 29 years on the road!


They will be performing at Huntingdon Hall, Crowngate, Worcester on Friday 7 November at 8pm.  Tickets are £15 from the box office – Tel: 01905 611427 or visit    This will be the band’s eighth visit to Huntingdon Hall.  Most of their previous concerts here have all sold out.  Fans are therefore advised to book early.


They will perform all of EC’s classic songs including Wonderful Tonight, Tears in Heaven, Crossroads, I Shot The Sheriff,Cocaine and of course Layla!  There will even be an “Unplugged” segment.




The band was formed in 1985 in Newcastle upon Tyne long before the term “tribute band” was invented.  Their ability to re-create Clapton’s electrifying stage performances really caught the audience’s imagination.  In guitar/vocalist Mike Hall, the band possesses a front man who not only looks like Eric, he sings and plays guitar like him too! 


In 1999, Mike won a national look-alike competition held at Madam Tussauds in London.  Mike has met Slowhand twice, and even received a message of encouragement from the guitar maestro (written on a Concorde menu).


TYNE TEES TELEVISION were so impressed by the band that they made a programme about them, called ‘COVER THEIR TRACKS’.  It was shown in August 2000 and received rave reviews, leading to national recognition.  Mike was filmed byJapanese TV for a documentary about Slowhand’s song Layla. It was shown on BS Fuji TV Japan in January 2013.


In 2001 they embarked on an extensive tour of UK Theatres.  They called the tribute show “CLASSIC CLAPTON”.  Since then, they have continued to perform throughout the UK and Europe including concerts at The Royal Festival Hall, Londonand a triumphant appearance at Glastonbury Festival in 2002.  In the past few years they have performed numerous concerts in Europe including Spain, Estonia, Holland & France.  In 2009 they appeared at St Andrews Auditorium inMumbai.  A 10,000 mile round-trip for 1 gig, but it was a great experience.  In the past 29 years CLASSIC CLAPTON have become something of a rock institution.


CLASSIC CLAPTON comprises 4 excellent musicians:-  Mike Hall (lead vocals/guitar), Paul Warren (keyboards/ backing vocals), Danny Davison (drums) and Dave Robson (bass guitar /backing vocals).  Dave is a former member of chart bandGeordie.  In fact he was with them at the time Brian Johnson left to join AC/DC.  Mike, Dave & Danny are all original members of CLASSIC CLAPTON. Paul joined in 2007.


CLASSIC CLAPTON have released three albums.  Firstly “THE MUSIC OF ERIC CLAPTON” contains brilliant cover-versions of 17 Clapton Classics.  Their second is a live double CD ”CLASSIC CLAPTON Unplugged”  recorded at Belfast Waterfront Hall.  In 2005 they released their third album “CLASSIC CREAM” – featuring 20 songs made famous by the sixties supergroup.  All three albums will be available at Huntingdon Hall.


Eric Clapton has been a major international star since the mid 1960’s, when he revolutionised electric guitar playing, with his virtuoso performances in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.  This year is his 50th Anniversary in the music business. He has won an incredible 19 Grammies and is the only triple inductee into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of The Yardbirds, Cream and as a solo artist). He released a new album in July as a tribute to JJ Cale.  The album entitled “The Breeze” features many famous friends including Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty & Willie Nelson.


EC’s recent tours unfortunately have visited only a limited number of large UK venues. If fans want to hear all of his hits performed in more intimate surroundings they really should attend a CLASSIC CLAPTON concert.  The whole of Clapton’s illustrious career will be covered including Cream, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominos and the solo years.       


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Watch them in session together above!

5 dates already sold out


 “Even a few years ago, the idea of British Country music spelt wannabe Dollys, line-dancing seniors and unconvincing American accents. Now though, fresh artists with country influences and the dexterity to create a credible home-grown version of the music are emerging” – Sunday Times


Two fast-rising acts, The Shires & Ward Thomas, on a joint tour that is set to be a landmark moment for the UK scene. The bands will take it in turns to headline on a series of dates around the UK. This is the moment fans of fresh and exciting country music have been waiting for!


Country music in the UK has been having a renaissance in recent times, what with the success of the television series ‘Nashville’ and of the huge Country 2 Country event in London, which saw some of the biggest US names playing the UK. It isn’t just American talent that’s enjoying this resurgence though: The UK has produced a new wave of talent who are putting a British spin on the down south sounds of Nashville.


Chief among this new wave are The Shires and Ward Thomas, two bands from the Home Counties who have taken inspiration from the sounds of Nashville legends such as Johnny Cash and Dixie Chicks. Not content to merely copy the USacts though, these bands are flying the flag for a British Country music that reflects the lives of young people living in the UK. This shared vision has led the bands to team up and take their music on the road for the nationwide ‘Home-grown tour’.


Both bands have come a long way since they played the pop-up stages of C2C in March 2014, with both acts having an A-Listed track on BBC Radio 2 and The Shires an iTunes UK Country No.1 with their debut single Nashville Grey Skies, while Ward Thomas’s debut album “From Where We Stand” went to No.1 on both the OCC Country Chart and iTunes’ Country Chart.


The seeds for this tour were sown when the two bands ran into each other in a road house in Nashville while they were both paying pilgrimage to their spiritual home. The chance to take their shared message out on the road together seemed too good to miss and the ‘Home-grown tour’ was born.


It seems that The Shires have come from nowhere overnight, but behind that first impression lies the story of two musicians who have been working towards this moment for a long time. Crissie has been singing her whole life, and came to love country music through artists like Dolly Parton and Faith hill, whereas Ben has toured as a singer/songwriter with the likes of K.T. Tunstall. Introduced by a mutual friend after a comment from Ben on Facebook, the pair instantly felt a musical connection, and discovered that they both lived near each other in “the Shires”.


Hampshire and Country music may not be obvious bed fellows but 20-year old twin sisters Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas (who have been singing harmonies together since childhood) have had Country music in their blood ever since they were introduced to the sounds of Carrie Underwood, Dixie Chicks and Alison Krauss by a Canadian cousin in their early teens. One listen to the vocal cadences and close harmonies on their debut album ‘From Where We Stand’ and Nashville and Hampshire suddenly don’t seem all that far apart.

Tickets on sale now

Tour Dates

Nov 4th: Birmingham Glee Club Last few tickets available

Nov 6th: Liverpool Academy 2

Nov 7th: Bristol Thekla Last few tickets available

Nov 9th: Oxford Academy 2 Last few tickets available

Nov 10th: London Bush Hall – Ward Thomas to headline SOLD OUT

Nov 11th: London Bush Hall – The Shires to headline SOLD OUT

Nov 13th: Manchester Band on the Wall Last few tickets available

Nov 14th: Gateshead The Sage SOLD OUT

Nov 16th: Leeds Brudenell Social Club Last few tickets available

Nov 17th: Norwich Waterfront

Nov 19th: Dublin Upstairs at Whelan’s, Dublin2

Nov 20th: Belfast McHugh’s Basement Bar

Nov 22nd: Yorkshire, Pocklington Arts Centre SOLD OUT

Nov 23rd: Glasgow King Tuts SOLD OUT

Nov 24th: Middlesbrough the Empire

Nov 26th: Nottingham Rescue Rooms Last few tickets available

Nov 27th: Milton Keynes The Stables

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Shadow Lad (also known as fifteen year old Eve Privitera) is a singer-songwriter hailing from Worcester who is taking her first steps into the world of music. I first encountered the project after reading a facebook message asking for advice on how to get started, having already written an eleven track debut album and so I offered to cast my ears over the album.

The album in question, Still Point Of Turning World is an intriguing debut that showcases a songwriter who pens lyrics way beyond her years, the self-reflective lyrics, instantly capture the imagination and will resonate with anyone looking for their place in life, the lyrics are often reflective and introspective yet at times almost bordering on quirky whilst musically, Eve has a stripped down almost primal sound, an acoustic guitar strummed, plucked and beaten into submission complimenting her already world weary voice.

The album opens with Idiot, a wonderful introduction to Eve’s sound with a short yet infectious number complete with a simplistic yet affecting riff and a drawled vocal, whilst showcasing those introspective lyrics that Eve seems to pull out of the hat at ease.

The album continues in much the same vein, acoustic guitar, catchy melodies and biting lyrics, musically Eve, hints at a folk influence, whilst the barbed wire, close to the bone lyrics hint at the 90’s grunge scene or perhaps even Ani Difranco, Eve pulls no punches on the likes of How Can I Be Worse she wishes someone dead and talks about the cancer in their brain, whilst Flesh is an anguished tale of loss and despair, Lying Is An Art features the somewhat shocking couplet of “the angels say if I cut out my tongue, I could still get into heaven” over a machine gun strummed guitar, whilst Loss, Grace And Acceptance is a suitably mournful yet lament as one might imagine.

The eleven tracks on here are raw and demo like in quality and yet the unpolished production suits Eve’s delivery, each of the songs on here are short and concise with not time for embellished thrills and sound all the better for it. As first forays go Still Point Of Turning World is an impressive debut full of promise, it’ll be interesting to hear what she comes up with next, after some heavy gigging, Shadow Lad (or as I prefer Eve) is definitely one to watch for the future.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 7


Album Artwork by Oscar Boyle

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Stompin’ On Spiders are a three-piece hailing from in and around hte Malvern area, the foundations of the band first formed back in 2009 and since then the band have become main stays of the Worcester music scene as well as regularly venturting out of the counties boundaries, during the band’s life span they’ve previously released a couple of well received albums, whilst individual members of the band have also been seen treading the boards with the likes of Highway 5, Stripped Down Bluies and The Cowley Cowboys among others.

Blacklisted, the band’s third album sees the band expand their number and indeed, with the addition of Mark Miletech on double bass and Debbie Robinson, who adds some celtic harp on a bluesy mellow track during the album.

Now before I delve into the music itself, I must quickly mention hte packaging of the new album, the release itself found it’s way to me as a wonderfully presented credit card like USB that features the album, a video and a promo pic, all complimented by a nice looking booklet that features an introduction to the band, lyrics and song explanations, etc. The format is innovative and very welcome in my book, it’s really nice to see a band push the boundaries with presentation of an album and it activally encourages interest, as opposed to the standard CD format (or worse the dreaded MP3), so for that alone Stompin’ On Spiders should be commended.

The album itself is a little hit and miss to be honest, it opens with the mellow folky blues of Schizophrenic City, which is a decent enough opener without really grabbing you by the lapels, the combination of strummed acoustics and bluesy electric riffs works nicely, but the song never really hooks you in, then from there the band kind of jump around a little from engaging blues to mellow and meandering 60’s influenced folk.

The album features a number of tracks that do make you sit up and take notice, Blacklist Blues is a prime example, a darker, brooding number, with stomping blues riffs and pattered percussion backing perhaps the most convincing vocal on the album, whilst the likes of Cloud Seeding and the energetic and restless blues of Katie Shoot The Gun also deserve merit, whilst the instrumental jam during The Great Divide proves the band to be more than able musicians.

However the more refrained numbers, such as Angry Again and Charlie’s Smile lack a little bite, the vocals are a bit weak to carry the tune and don’t really engage the listener, whilst musically they meander without ever reaching the desired destination and the vocal restrain on the otherwise impressive album closer, Ten Thousand Miles is completely uneccesary and a little cheesy.

I think Stompin’ On Spiders have got a decent blues album in their locker somewhere and I’d like to hear them perhaps pursue the sound of the aforementioned Blacklist Blues a little more but at the moment the band frustrate, I like roots and folk as much as the next man (actually probably more) however a stripped down sound does expose any weaknesses and unfortunately a few of the track on here do just that.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 6



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If anyone was to ask me what kind of music I like, my simple answer would be music that moves me, despite genre and classification, if the music has emotion, style doesn’t come into the equation. So with that in an invitation to see classical music/vocal harmonies three-piece, Blake intrigued, could a band known for performances on the likes of This Morning and Loose Women (and the royal wedding between William and Kate!!!) speak to me, a hardened music critic?

The group are currently on tour in support of the soon to be released new album, In Harmony (Nov 3rd) performing at numerous intimate theaters across the UK, enabling their fans to catch their heroes up close and personal. The Artrix is a perfect venue for such a performance, the sound is always crystal clear, the seating intimate but more than comfortable and the staff are second to none.

As you can imagine the Blake and  took to the stage to a full auditorium and instantly seduced the audience with a stunning rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water, setting the mood for an evening of soaring vocals, gorgeous harmonies and classic songs lifted from the world’s of pop, classical, opera and beyond. Having taken my seat in trepidation (always cynical about a band that could be described as housewives choice), I have to say that opening number blew me away, I knew the trio could sing but the blended voices of Stephan, Humphrey and Ollie sounded sensational ringing around the venue.

From such beginnings the close knit group delivered a tender version of To Love Somebody (lifted from the new album) before really letting those operatic voices of the leash with a breathtaking take on the Morricone themed Nella Fantasia, with each of their voices reaching a beautiful crescendo, almost lifting the roof from the Artrix.

Showcasing the diversity of influences Blake then offered up a very impressive and inventive, reconstructed version of Chasing Cars that perhaps manage to up the emotional ante of even the original and certainly rained on all the sub-standard x-factor versions we’ve had to endure in recent years. Fellow opera singer Camilla Kerslake then took over the stage for a couple of numbers as well assisting a version of surprisingly stirring, You Raise Me Up (that also featured the Beat Breast Cancer Choir via video back-up), before the boys took over for a mesmeric acapella version of Cohen’s Hallelujah and the evergreen opera classic Nessum Dorma, closing the first set on an incredible high.

During the interval the band and Camilla, took to the bar area to sign anything that was thrust upon them, a welcoming sigh, showing their appreciation to their fans.

The second set began much as the first with the boys delivering beautiful vocal takes on the likes of, Love Lifts You Up Where You Belong, Love Me Tender (featuring a ukulele no less) and a wonderful touching take, on the Les Miserables classic Bring Him Home. In fact the only song I can really pick fault with was a less than satisfying With Or Without You (U2), which perhaps lacked the necessary punch, musically, to really do the song justice.

Camilla returned to the stage for a few numbers before joining in for a rousing and standing finale of Time To Say Goodbye and (Songs of Praise favourite) Jerusalem, leaving the gathered baying for more and this reviewer as something of a covert to their cause.

Like I alluded to at the opening of this review I want music to emotionally pull the listener in and I have to say Blake do just that, whether you like the classical/opera/pop crossover that the group do is neither here nor there, the trio’s vocals yank at the strings and at times leave your hairs standing to attention.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 8

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