Aynsley Lister: rock with jazz from the heart

The Aynsley Lister Band doesn’t play like normal blues rock outfits. Guitar and bass, piano and organ, and drummer don’t actually used their fingers. They play in their heads and very occasionally each band member will glance to see if their digits are following the sensory instructions.
From the off at Lowdham Village Hall the throb of the blues took us back to days of Peter Green and Danny Kirwan in early Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton at his very best with John Mayall, and Paul Kossoff before he was ‘Free’d from drugs and left this earth.
Lister, Andy Price on keyboards, Beneto Dryden on drums and, especially, the amazing bassman (name missing) are young – mid 40s apart from the bassman – but music has no respect for age and the fluid, dextrous talents of guys who simply love the stuff they do was always going to be a winner.
The young, blonde bassman picked up one of the two magnificent Fender Precision Bass and his fingers began that majestic walk up and down the fret while he plucked and rolled the strings. This was a lion in a zoo, pacing languidly along the fence, every muscle tuned, every movement showing hidden power and strength. Don’t let him loose: he’ll roar.
The first three numbers were an introduction to the scope and range of the band’s individuality, with Dryden stroking and guiding, and having no need to impose his obvious volume. While Price, working the keyboards like the tillerman on a ship, kept the movement flowing.
Lister is a master guitar technician. He can make the instrument sing, cry, wail, sob, and joyously burst out into renewed life. This was a glowing example of clinical precision by one of the most adept surgeons. He took our hearts and our heads, and returned them much later, cleaned and refreshed. He has written countless great songs and produced 11 albums. The vast majority of last night’s performance was from those self-penned albums, and the audience loved every note.
Stay With Me began in a reverberating B-Flat before ascending into the more melodic B (so I’m told) and included a wonderful chorus: “Stay with me. I don’t think that I can make it alone.” ‘A Single Candle’ began with keyboards and drums chatting before an extended ‘conversation’ between guitar and keyboards with the bass driving out a heavy rhythm. The departure from blues to rock was complete with the bass taking firm control, allowing guitar and keyboards to duel in a 1960s, USA-style (Grateful Dead, or even the UK’s Graham Bond Organisation?).
The ad-libbing of precision playing between Lister and Price and then guitar and bass ended the first half. With cheeky comments about teas and snack in the village hall, the band left the stage. Followed, minutes later, by middle-aged posteriors perched on the edge of the stage eating mince pies and trying not to spill cups of tea.
The band was back and it was straight into jazz rock fusion, and the almost Spanish-influenced cadence of guitar on Kalina, and more great blues lyrics like: ‘I’m so down, I’m almost level with the ground.’ Through more rocking genres, including the furious, fret-strutting of Electric Man; and then it was over … not quite. The late and very great Prince would have wept in admiration at the rendition of Purple Raid, and the audience was given full rein to join in the lyrics. Goodnight, except for an encore that was just a joyous blast of fun and frivolity. Deep Purple’s ‘Hush’ was an invitation to a standing, dancing, waving crowd to sing out their approval for a truly remarkable gig.

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