The BluesBones – Live On Stage | Album Review

The BluesBones – Live On Stage

CD: 12 Songs, 71 Minutes

Styles: Acid Rock, Guitar Monster Blues, Heavy Metal, All Original Songs, Live Album

Imagine a skeleton for a minute. A creaking, rattling, haunting, shaking skeleton. There’s no meat on it anymore, but sans our skeleton, we’d be a sentient pile of protoplasm. We need it to support everything else in and on our body. We may not notice it, but it’s our unsung hero. Live on Stage, the sixth album from The BluesBones, may not sound like traditional blues for most of its twelve original tracks. However, this Belgian band bases its acid rock, heavy metal, and “guitar monster blues” on real-deal riffs and rhythms. The bones of the blues hold up blistering instrumentation, clear vocals, and a relentless energy that’s so high it borders on scary. On super songs such as “Demon Blues,” “The Witchdoctor,” “Betrayal” and the 11:15-minute closer “Whiskey Drinking Woman,” this quintet pulls out all the stops and pleases a cheering crowd for over 70 minutes. There’s absolutely no distortion, no mic feedback, none of the pitfalls that might mar a live event. From start to finish, it’s a top-notch production.

Before COVID hit hard, they did, at an event organized in association with the team of the Swing Wespelaar festival, hoping to capitalize on the success of their critically-acclaimed 2018 album Chasing Shadows. No one had the faintest idea that two months later, this CD’s release and their scheduled promotion tour through Europe would be abruptly cancelled. Nevertheless, they decided to release it in 2020, commenting: “We hope this record will recall the atmosphere of a live concert without restrictions, and how life will hopefully look again in the near future.”

The BluesBones consist of front man Nico De Cock on vocals, Stef Paglia on guitar and backing vocals, Edwin Risbourg on Hammond organ, Rhodes and backing vocals, Geert Boeckx on bass, and Jens Roelandt on drums.

One of the best songs I haven’t mentioned yet is “Cruisin’,” number ten. From the way Nico De Cock announces it to his audience with undisguised glee, to its hard-driving rhythm, to the way it inspires people to imagine a fast drive down a long highway with a passionate passenger, it’s a bona-fide winner. Geert Boeckx’s drum intro propels the song like a rocket launcher, and Edwin Risbourg’s organ solo is nothing short of stellar. In my opinion, it should have closed the show.

If Live on Stage doesn’t really sound like classic blues, fear not. The bones are there, and the BluesBones know how much they rely upon the skeletal support of their root genre. It’s a rip-roaring guitar riot!

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