Its 7 pm on a Saturday night and in the center of Bristol at The Trinity Arts Centre, there’s a huge queue outlining the building in a completely rammed car park. Tonight’s attraction is American singer-songwriter Samantha Fish supported by Felix Rabin, a fresh-faced young man from France who’s becoming known for being a prodigy on his guitar.
There’s a mix of clientele tonight as they all pile into the venue to get the best place possible to catch these young wonders of the music industry. With a surprisingly large stage for the size of the venue, an orderly queue formed around the perimeter for the bar which took about a half-hour to get everyone a drink. The rest of the crowd waited patiently in the dark listening to music played over the PA periodically glaring at their phones to check the time. It’s now banging on 8 pm and Felix Rabin and his fellow bandmates waited in the wings with his drummer eagerly tapping drumsticks against the side of the stage. And on they go.
Felix was joined by a bass guitarist and drummer this evening and all three of them young and energetic. Their chilled-out sound had the crowd bobbing up and down in no time with some intricate and dreamy guitar solos by Felix himself. By their third track ‘Moving On’ Felix took the time to introduce his band and spoke of his excitement playing in the UK again. There was no disguising their fourth track which was a rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’ which saw Felix at his finest miming along with that infamous ‘wah-wah’ riff on his guitar for the intro. His husky but soulful voice worked in total harmony and definitely worth the wolf-whistles from the crowd as it took them by surprise. A little bit more interaction with the crowd before the penultimate track from his short but sweet setlist titled ‘Find Me’ – a slower ballad with soft crashing cymbals and diminishing lights to set the mood. A complete contrast to the last track showing how versatile this young Frenchman is. A great start to the evening and a winner with the crowd.With the stage already partially set up, there was still quite a long interval between support and the main act tonight. The crowd was somewhat chilled out with no pushing and shoving to get to the front and the merch stand ticked over steadily, as did the bar. A calming vibe for a Saturday night.
As 9 pm approaches, the lights go out and Samantha’s band head out onto the stage and settle into their places for the night. Joining her tonight are Phil Breen on keyboards, Chris Alexander on bass, Scott Graves on drums and non-other than ‘The Voice’ finalist and soul-orientated pianist Nicholas David who heads straight into the first track of the set ‘Hole in The Bottom’, one of Nicholas’ latest releases. A clearly smooth transition as he introduces ‘The One and Only Samantha Fish’ onto the stage as she appears grasping her Cigar Box guitar leading into the second track ‘Love Your Lies’ taken from her latest album ‘Kill or Be Kind’. Of course, there’s no need for any introduction from Samantha herself as she stands at the front of the stage dressed in tight black trousers, a pink cropped biker jacket sporting that infamous Monroe styled hair – a classic 50’s look that will never go out of fashion and perfectly suited to her bluesy rock ‘n’ roll’ vibe.
‘Bulletproof’ was the next track taken from the latest album and another opportunity for Samantha to demonstrate her bottleneck skills on that Cigar Box guitar – and boy did she smash it. You could almost see the bottom of everyone’s jaws drop to the floor. This beautiful 31-year-old American goddess not only looked the part, but she played the guitar with such ease it was extraordinarily mesmerizing. Although by this stage there wasn’t much in the way chatter with the crowd, Samantha plowed into her next track and title of her latest album ‘Kill or Be Kind’ with a swift guitar change courtesy of the guitar tech on standby. With a rather hefty set to get through, Samantha took it all in her stride, not even breaking out into a sweat in her leopard skin killer heels playing ‘footsie’ with her pedalboard in between a bit of re-tuning. There’s some ‘Girl Power’ right there – multitasking and keeping the crowd interested as she asked the crowd who’d already been to see her perform. Of course, many hands were raised.
Yet another introduction from Nicholas David on keyboards as the set continued with many of the tracks from the latest album. As fans already know, Samantha has recently released her own Record Label called ‘Wild Heart Records’ and David is one of the lucky ones to sign up as a unique artist. ‘Say Goodbye’ is one of his latest tracks which he treats the crowd to as Samantha provides the backing vocals and acoustic guitar. With a much more country feel to the track, there’s a lot of charismatic energy between the two on stage which saw many in the crowd get their phones out to capture the moment on video. Midway through the set and we’re taken back in time to a track from Samantha’s 2017 ‘Chill and Fever’ album called ‘Little Baby’. With the tempo raised, the crowd found some space, albeit small, to dance to this toe-tapping, rock ‘n’ roll track and another chance for Samantha to show that she’s a dab-hand with any guitar solo – no matter what genre. She’s cool, calm and classy as she personifies the stage gaining the envy of both male and female fans.
As the end of the track finishes with guitar solo vs. drums, ‘No Angels’ was next on the setlist from the album ‘Belle of The West’, followed by ‘Dream Girl’ taken from the latest album – both tracks immensely popular with the crowd with their imaginative sound effects on both keyboards and guitar and rock-a-bye-baby drumbeats. A truly exquisite track. For some unknown reason, everything seemed to get mighty loud as the last track started called ‘Bitch on the Run’. Perhaps it was because ‘Dream Girl’ had sent everyone into a hypnotic and dreamy state? Nonetheless, this last track was definitely a wake-up call as Samantha enticed the crowd to join in with some of the chorus whilst the shredded her guitar til it was smokin’ hot! The crowd was ecstatic as they all had their arms in the air clapping to the beat. It was also time for each of the band members to have their time by doing a little solo which extended the length of track to finalize the set.
The evening had now come to a peak and the time was approaching 10.30 pm as the band left the stage. But no one was tired and no one wanted to go home without an ‘Encore’. And before you could say ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’, the band were back out on stage with Samantha thanking the crowd for being so awesome. The first track of their encore was ‘With or Without’, another track is taken from Nicholas David’s album released in 2019 ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ and further opportunity for him to shine. Not only is this a great ‘feel-good’ tune, but it’s also a magnificent track to wind down to, given the energy that’s been pounding around the stage. To complete the set, ‘Shake em Down’ is the final track of the night and the last chance to see Samantha slamming that bottleneck on her signature Cigar Box guitar one more time whilst she shook those platinum locks of hair with gusto. A mammoth round of applause came from the crowd as the band formed a line to bow before vacating the stage. As half of the venue drained, the other half queued at the merch stand to stock up on copies of Samantha’s new album. As the rest of the band took a break, there was no rest for the wicked as Samantha gave fans some more of her time for obligatory selfies and signings.
A remarkable night had come to an end. But those who had the pleasure of witnessing this American Blues-Rock beauty parade the stage for the very first time would undoubtedly be back for more. She’s young, she’s fresh, she’s talented and most of all, not out of water. She was born to do what she does best – play the blues.
Review & Photography: Emma Painter
Pacific Curd Photography // https://www.pacificcurdphotography.co.uk