Here’s my review of The Joe Corbin Trio, supported by Of Empires, at The Fermain Tavern, it was also published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 17th August 2013 (you can see a scan of that at the bottom of the article).
Joe Corbin made his name, really, at the regular blues nights that used to take place at The Fermain Tavern a couple of years ago, when he was fronting Spoonful, so, there was certainly a mild sense of anticipation in seeing him return to the Tav’s stage with his new, slimmed down, outfit in tow.
Before Joe and co took to the stage though Of Empires were on supporting duties, continuing a busy summer for them.
Following their storming set at Chaos things were on a slightly lower tone tonight as, though the venue was as they started their set, everyone seemed content to hang back to the shadows or the raised areas of the Tavern.
This didn’t put the band off though and they are yet another act that can be added to the list of consummate performers on the local scene who can be relied on to play, at the very least, a good show and, more often than not, a very good show.
Halfway through the set Of Empires played an acoustic number, with Matt Berry taking up acoustic guitar, Liam Bewey swapping the bass for a mandolin and George Le Page playing a few percussion instruments rather than the full drum kit. While they have done this a couple of times before, tonight it seemed to click in with the rest of the performance much more and really served to add another string to the band’s classic rock bow.
With debut single I Am The Night dropped from the set, second single Carla proved to be Of Empires’ new calling card and tonight featured a guest appearance from Josh Fletcher on guitar and, while I have to admit it didn’t add much to the song, seeing brothers Jack and Josh back on stage together again was a bit of a treat as someone who has fond memories of My Last Victory gigs a few years back.
While the audience had certainly been appreciative, and grew increasingly involved with Of Empires’ set as it went on, they certainly suddenly seemed to wake up properly as Joe and his rhythm duo of bass player and fellow Guern (and another former My Last Victory member) James Macphail and drummer Sam Clifford stepped onto the stage.
From the start it was clear that Joe has grown as a performer. While his time in Spoonful was marked by his excellent guitar playing, there was often a sense of the arrogance of youth in his performances, now however this has been replaced with more than a degree of confidence along with even more impressive guitar playing, which is, at times, astonishing to watch.
As a trio the band are excellent with Joe clearly being much more comfortable on stage with other performers closer to his age and experience, making them a real trio when it comes to performance. The closest thing I’ve seen on the Tav stage that I could compare it to would be the Wilko Johnson Band where all three members communicate with a look or a glance as they work through their repertoire, though with a different dynamic, as here the bass player and guitarist never seemed to be fighting for attention at the front.
As a rhythm section James and Sam did generally take a back seat to Joe but, in doing so, show themselves to be consummate musicians as well with some great rhythms backing up the leads – Sam in particular showed a powerful side to his drumming at times while James looked happier on stage than most players I’ve ever seen as he worked his way around his Fender bass with style.
Across the set the trio rolled from smooth blues to jagged blues rock before being called back on stage for two encores as the dancefloor filled, and, even though straight up blues isn’t generally my thing, they kept my interest all night. Leaving the crowd wanting more The Joe Corbin Trio certainly demonstrated that they are worth keeping an eye on as they try to make a splash on the London circuit.