Having seen The Karena K band last November, I was keen to see them again as I had been really impressed the first time and was anxious to see if there was a consistency. I needn’t have been apprehensive as instantly we were made aware of the beautiful tones of her amazingly soulful voice and the brilliant command she has of the phrasing and control of the light and dark shadings within the songs.
The audience at first was not so full due to the surface train strike that evening but soon filled up. There was certainly a buzz and an atmosphere about the place and we knew we were going to have a great evening’s entertainment.
The Setlist was as follows :-
Let My Baby Ride (R.L. Burnside Cover)
Temptation Eyes (Grass Roots Cover)
Darlin’ You Know I Love You ( Tina Turner Cover)
Playing With Fire
Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Unchain My Heart (Joe Cocker Cover)
Rock Me Baby (B.B. King Cover)
Battered and Blue
If This Isn’t Love
Mercy (Duffy Cover)
Please Note – Karena’s compositions are the ones without parenthesis.
Band Members :-
Karena K – Vocals/Saxophone
Alan Taylor – Guitar
Darrel Welch – Guitar
James Fox – Bass Guitar
Spencer Blackledge – Drums
The First song up certainly did credit to R L Burnside. Wonderful powerful vocals and great saxophone breaks. This was a stunning song to open the set with brilliant tight rocking rhythm section and great guitar work. This was followed by Temptation Eyes , which is a cover of an old grass roots song. This is a brilliant song and suits Karena’s voice so well. Upbeat and again sung beautifully with such soul, clear diction, great melody and performed so well by the band.
Midnight Walk was the next song and is her debut single from her proposed album. Her voice on this song has variously been described as sultry, sexy and like velvet fog. It was all this and more at this live event and this was a really stunning performance by the whole band. Next up was a great cover of the Tina Turner song, Darlin’ you know I love you. Another great sultry song with shuffle rhythm so tightly played with lead breaks alternating between Darrel & Alan on guitar and Karena on saxophone. Again Karena’s vocals soar and really do justice to this great song.
The next song up was ’Playing With Fire’ which is another one of Karena’s compositions and is such a powerful song. Karena’s great emotional delivery really makes you believe that someone really is playing with fire and this will be a strong song when she releases her album. ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ is another great song written by Karena and it appears on Wily Bo Walker & Karena’s album ‘A Long Way from Heaven’. With ‘Unchain My Heart’, Karena really does credit to this Joe Cocker classic. She stamps her own identity on this song whilst delivering such a powerful and soulful interpretation.
We are then treated to a brilliant version of B.B. King’s ‘Rock Me Baby’ song, sung with such conviction and passion. Battered and Blue is yet another one of Karena’s great emotional compositions sung again with such power and honesty.
I really enjoyed the penultimate song, ‘If This Isn’t Love’ which is a new song to be released on a future album. A very catchy and poignant song which I feel could be a little anthemic and again Karena makes you believe in her lyrics and music! The last song ‘Mercy’ was such a great take on this lovely Duffy song and it rounded off a set of really strong songs so magnificently presented by Karena and her band.
All in all The Karena K band has now developed into a great team of brilliant musicians who play so well together with a great repertoire of songs which will make for an Exceptional Album in the near future. They seem to understand each other so well and have developed into a great tight unit that entertains so well and that was confirmed by the euphoric approval of the audience.
What is also amazing is the alter egos that Karena has in bands such as the Vampirettes, The Blue Valentines, Rattlin’ Bone, the Mescal Canyon Troubadours and other ventures with Wily Bo Walker. It was wonderful to chat to both of them after her set and to discover the passion they both have for music and a tremendous mutual respect for each other. Make no mistake, they are both extremely talented musicians. It was interesting to discover that in the ‘80s. Bo was looking for a horn player and backing singer for his band in the Glasgow area. Karena & Bo then played together in a band called the Heartbeats. They both then went on with their separate careers until about six years ago.
Karena toured all over the world, including an appearance in the Dubai Rock/Blues Festival with her band ‘Nightcalls.’ They have more recently worked together on the mini-album ‘A Long Way From Heaven’ and two other albums, from which the title song was runner up in the 2015 Blues Awards. Karena has been nominated for Best Instrumentalist Award in 2016 Blues Awards. I feel Karena is destined for success and hopefully we will have a physical CD album to listen to from her in the near future.
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