“Too many bands release “live records” but half of it is over dubbed in the studio and the f*** ups are erased,” says Matthews. “On Freak Valley you get the real deal. No overdubs.”
Recorded at Freak Valley Festival in Siegan, Germany on May 27, 2016, this live album does indeed capture the real deal that is the Krissy Matthews Band in all their glory. Bursting with adrenaline, it showcases perfectly the exciting, high octane show that the power trio put on. The line up is Krissy Matthews (Vocals/Guitar), Sam Weston (Bass/Vocals) and Max Maxwell (Drums/Vocals).
Live at Freak Valley opens up with “Feeling For The Blues,” a mid-tempo number from the 2011 album Hit The Rock. It doesn’t take long, less than a minute in fact, for Matthews’ guitar prowess to show, as he tears into the opening solo with gusto and fervour. The song is a f*** you to the blues purists out there who think you can’t play the blues unless you are 70 years old, a theory that this 24 year old British/Norwegian virtuoso is rapidly disproving.
“I’ve Been Searching” with its hard, driving riff is next. It is a powerhouse of a track in the vein of Jeff Healey. Matthews busts out sleazy wah licks before soloing over some groovy, Sam Weston bass lines. It is strange to hear a 24 year old singing lyrics beginning with the words “When I was young..” but I guess when you’ve released three albums by the age of 18, it is pretty easy to feel old. “All Night Long” written when Krissy was 17 years old, is all about living life to its fullest, especially whilst you are young. The guitar replicates the vocal melody in the verses before giving way to a frenetic solo section.
On 2015’s Scenes From A Moving Window producer and co-writer, Pete Brown suggested recording a cover of Blind Willie McTells “Searching The Desert For The Blues” and to make it his own. This version is much more upbeat and rocking than McTells and I hear Joe Bonamassa in the vocal delivery, but there is a failure to match the gravitas that the Ragtime guitar legend brought to the original.
“Language By Injection” and “The Soul Will Never Die” both slow things down initially but build up into exciting solo climaxes. The former written about a particular night out in Poland and the latter written after a meeting with the legendary B.B. King as a 13 year old.
“Bad Boy” features some truly outstanding, coruscating guitar work and is a big rocker of a track, whilst the Jimi Hendrix cover of “Freedom” closes out the main set with its hard rocking riff, driving rhythms and it is here where we get to hear Matthew’s vibrato. An incredible song and one where you can hear the band just having fun with it.
As well as the set from Siegen, Live at Freak Valley also contains three bonus tracks recorded live at Gerd’s Juke Joint in Joldelund, Germany during the Spring of 2016. These are “Hit The Rock ‘N’ Roll The Car,” “Roadsick Blues,” and “Bubbles And The Seven Phones.”
Random title aside, “Hit The Rock ‘N’ Roll The Car” is a strange track. For me, it has the feel of a couple of songs spliced together, with the only cohesion coming in the form of the guitar solo. The country flavours of “Roadsick Blues” are a welcome addition to the album, adding an injection of humour to the proceedings, and we get a harmonica solo thrown in for good measure too.
The brooding “Bubbles And The Seven Phones” closes us out complete with volume swells, atmospheric organs, deep bass and delayed blues licks. The tale of a former manager and agent that sadly passed away in 2011, it builds and builds, lulling you into a false sense of security before tearing it up with a ripping solo.
This is a solid album that captures Krissy Matthews Band doing what they do best; playing live! The energy bursts through the speakers and grabs you by the ears, never letting up, even in the slower, introspective moments. The musicianship that is on display is second to none and goes a long way in showcasing why Matthews is regarded as one the best, upcoming Blues guitarists on the scene. Packed with fantastic extended jams, this album is one for the guitarists out there.
To celebrate the release of Live at Freak Valley, Krissy Matthews Band is set to embark on a UK and European tour in March and April. I would recommend you grabbing a ticket and checking out the hype.
UK Tour Dates
March 29 – The Bullington, Oxford BUY TICKETS
March 30 – The Chambers, Folkestone FREE ENTRY
April 19 – The Fiddler’s Elbow, London BUY TICKETS
April 20 – Tring Blues Bar, Hertfordshire
April 21 – The Bear Club, Luton EMAIL TO RESERVE
April 22 – The Fleur De Lys, Didcot
April 23 – Black Market Venue, Mansfield
April 24 – Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff BUY TICKETS
April 27 – The Arches, Coventry BUY TICKETS