Opening tonight was Bella Collins and The Blue, this Cardiff based band is becoming a firm favourite as a popular opening act for gigs in Cardiff and beyond. There is no doubt that Bella is gaining a following and beginning to create her own vocal style; delivering blues, gospel songs known by all. The is no doubt that Bella has power in her voice which she controls; I do feel that sitting down clutching her acoustic guitar makes the act a bit pedestrian she needs to develop her stage persona communicating with the band behind her and the audience out front excellent stage craft engages the audience making them feel part of the show, so open your mouth sing out loud and clear talk to the audience and this act could go from strength to strength, being more than a popular support band.
Lisa Mills and Ian Jennings hit the stage like a musical tornado; Sunshine bringing an energy to the venue drawing in the audience we knew we were in for some fun. Lisa has a wonderful stage persona as she shares anecdotes and tells you little tales about the music that makes you feel part of the show. Running on 3 hours sleep having played at Grand Blues Sassari Festival in Sardinia the previous day there was the incident of a song being played in the wrong key! Did that phase Ian? no he adjusted and the song played on… one wouldn’t have noticed if Lisa in her open manner hadn’t told us. It is as ever Lisa’s voice that stole the show, yes the guitar work is deft but it is when she opens her mouth so that all her music pours out like a fountain of sound as she sings Smiling you just have to find her beat and smile too. The interplay between her and Ian is that of chums having fun at the same time every note is played with feeling and every word is given the right cadence.
We were treated tonight to a wide selection of blues, country and a mix of the two genres including You Are Not The Only Game In Town; written with help from friend George Borowski when Lisa was visiting Macclesfield and a lovely rendition of Texan left-handed guitarist Barbara Lynn a song about an ex called You’ll Lose A Good Thing. We were also treated to a selection of tracks from her current Album Tempered in Fire; including Tennessee Tears the opening track and it is those pipes that produced a turbo-charged voice, tonight we were treated to that live in Barry. The medley was cleverly constructed with little spoken interludes with Johnny Cash for her Dad and Elvis Presley for her mum… for the audience pure musical delight’
Lisa owns the stage as she enthralls the audience and entertains with Ian providing a superb bass – like enhancing and adding tonal colour to every song sung, there can be no argument that Lisa Mills is the real deal when it comes to Country Blues.
She is the mistress of the vocals they soar with power above the audience out of the open window and into the hot night air she was a nightingale that visited Barry tonight she bent a twisted and shaped the notes to fit the lyrics. The guitar and double bass played second fiddle to Lisa and her powerful vocal chords. Her beautiful rendition of Otis Redding‘s These Arms of Mine – this version really suits her vocal dynamics with 99% of the audience sat listening in awed silence BUT… then there had to be the few… why not leave and sit somewhere else there is a bar downstairs where you can talk as much as you like without ruining the moment for the majority.
That said the audience were delighted with the show we had the cake, delicious icing and now for the cherry on the top for the encore we had a very special version of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing which I believe is going to be on the forthcoming album and a re-mix of I’m Changing. Lisa you didn’t need to change anything tonight you were just perfect…