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Review: The Blue Stones @ Thekla

After almost three years since the band last played in the UK, The Blue Stones kicked off their UK/EU tour for their latest album Hidden Gems (2021) on 14 March.

By Flossie Palmer, Features Editor

After almost three years since the band last played in the UK, The Blue Stones kicked off their UK/EU tour for their latest album Hidden Gems (2021) on 14 March. The band reconnected with fans both new and old with their well-curated setlist of recent releases, interspersed with older tracks from their first album, Black Holes(2018), while Thekla provided the perfect intimate atmosphere in which no listener was too far from the action.

The band immediately filled the room with energy by launching into ‘Let It Ride,’ immediately creating a sea of bopping heads in the crowd, then uniting them in the song’s chant-and-clap breakdown three quarters of the way through. This track then segued into the band’s second most listened to song on Spotify, ‘Be My Fire,’ which followed a similar approach in encouraging the crowd to groove, singing along to the song’s lustful and incredibly catchy lyrics.

While The Blue Stones do not describe themselves as a heavy-rock band, and neither does their sound fit this description, instead clearly drawing on their self-professed rock n roll influences, certain members of the crowd attempted to form a mosh pit. This was largely unsuccessful, resulting in temporary hostility amongst the crowd, and taking the band themselves by surprise, as Tarek Jafar, the band’s guitarist and lead vocalist, commented on how they had not expected Bristol to be so ‘lively.’

Credit: Flossie Palmer

However, the moshing, incongruous with the band’s music, soon transformed into jumping and clapping in unison instead, as fans lost themselves in the smooth blues-rock sounds reverberating through the depths of Thekla’s below-deck stage.

It is undecided whether the band are more renowned for perfecting the art of blues or rock in their exploration of the combined blues-rock genre. However, the band certainly brought the best of both genres to the stage, performing their more energetic tracks such as ‘Rolling With The Punches’ in amongst their slower tracks like ‘Make It Easy.’

The band’s diverse setlist and range is a testament to their musical talent, drawing couples into each other’s arms during the romantic lull of ‘Oceans,’ then reigniting the crowd with their lively performance of ‘Spirit.’ While their recorded songs are good, it is safe to say that The Blue Stones are even better live.

Credit: Flossie Palmer

The band also didn’t shy away from showing off that there is more to their music than their definitive sound. Jafar chatted to the audience in between songs, while drummer Justin Tessier kept the beat going and energy high during the band’s interludes, in which guitars were swapped out and water bottles swigged from. The band even remerged from the shadows of backstage for an encore with beer bottles in hand, Tessier raising his to the crowd which then erupted into cheers.

The entire performance was brought to a climax in the band’s encore, a cover of The Rolling Stones’ iconic track ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.’ The crowd chanted the lyrics back to the band with enthusiasm in a perfect send off for the band, ending their first show of the UK tour on a high.

Featured image: Flossie Palmer

Have you seen The Blue Stones live?