Paul Lamb and the King Snakes/Huntingdon Hall, Worcester

IT really doesn’t get much better than this. In a blues-rock world saturated with Eric Clapton clones, this veteran harmonica man from the Tyne Delta without doubt shows us how it should be done.

So. This is the blues according to Paul Lamb, his son Ryan, and three sidesmen who most surely know their green onions.

While Lamb Junior squeezes and teases staccato slurred notes out of his Telecaster as if it’s his last day on Earth, Lamb senior answers with stunning harp lines. The result is electrifying.

Basically, the former is a cross between Otis Rush and Howling Wolf’s guitarist Hubert Sumlin, while the latter does an eerily accurate exhumation job on the souls of those late harmonica heroes Little Walter and Sonny Terry.

These days, the band members mainly write their own numbers. Nevertheless, we’re still riding the blinds from Mississipi to Chicago, via the timeless music of luminaries such as John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush and Sonny Boy Williamson. And you’re so glad you went along for the ride.

Paul Lamb has a saxophonist’s approach to the harmonica, especially on numbers where he swaps the diatonic for the chromatic instrument. This is Walter Jacobs meets Charlie Parker while hooking up with Big Walter Horton on the way.

Second guitarist Chad Strentz also plays a key role, injecting new life into rhythm and blues staple You Really Got a Hold on Me and then changing gear to cruise into the more topical Depression Recession and Sometime Tomorrow, a number that oozes early 1960s proto-soul.

Elsewhere, we were treated to a note-perfect version of Big Joe Williams’ Baby Please Don’t Go, although the band admittedly opted to give this classic the Muddy Waters band treatment.

Paul Lamb and the King Snakes have deservedly won many accolades in the world of contemporary blues and it was a pity that the audience at the hall on this occasion was rather on the sparse side.

We can therefore only hope that this remarkable musician and his talented crew make a welcome return to Worcester… and soon.

John Phillpott