On a night when the rain continues to fall, I head towards north London, a mecca for live music to see Missouri lass Samantha Fish.
I cannot overlook the great support provided by Félix Rabin on the night. The Brittany, France raised, Switzerland based 24-year-old singer-songwriter is an awesome guitarist. This young man impressed in 2019 when as an unknown quantity was one of the highlights of HRH Blues.
He has a fine debut EP Pogboy which is certainly getting some rave reviews. The title was derived from the guitar effects pedal he uses with great technique. When Félix includes Voodoo Chile in his set, loses a string, and continues unperturbed says a lot about the young man’s character.
I first saw Samantha Fish in 2011 when she toured with Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde under the Ruf Records banner Girls With Guitars. She has continued to tour the UK on a regular basis and the development of this gifted personable young lady has been apparent each time. The last time Samantha played London, last year, was in fact only her second London headline show and she played to a sell out audience of 600. This time around she was playing to a capacity crowd of close on 900.
The band took to the stage without Samantha for the opener Hole In The Bottom. This was the same band she brought to the UK last year being Chris Alexander (bass), Scotty Graves (Drums) and Phil Breen (keys) but in addition she had recording artist Nicholas David on keyboards and vocals. A strange opener as this is not one of Samantha’s songs but a number from Nicholas David’s album Yesterday’s Gone albeit produced by Fish.
David introduces Samantha Fish to the stage to rapturous applause wearing the spikiest top ever, jeans and trademark colourful high heels. Cigar box slide guitar in hand it wasn’t long before Love Your Lies segued into the excellent Bullet Proof from her latest 2019 album Kill Or Be Kind. Cigar box is then exchanged for Gibson SG and Samantha played five more numbers from her latest album.
Samantha’s songwriting credentials have never been in doubt and this is proven when laid alongside two numbers penned by Nicholas David, the opener Hole In The Bottom and Say Goodbye, once again Fish giving way to David on vocals whilst she takes up her acoustic, and just one cover everything else in the set was written by this very talented young lady.
Samantha highlights the many strings to her bow (she would never be tagged with just one genre) as she performs every number with aplomb whether it be blues, rock, metal, Americana, country or even a little rockabilly as in Little Baby. In addition to the two real crowd pleasers Bulletproof and Bitch On The Run, there were three stand out numbers on the night; Watch It Die, Kill Or Be Kind and No Angels with some exquisite slide.
It seems strange that in what was a mature to ageing audience there was the constant exclamations of “I love you Samantha”. I am guessing these guys are single, lonely or they had been drinking on an empty head. Samantha was sympathetic and sarcastic, however, in declaring the love was reciprocated.
Nobody gets away without an encore but before doing so whilst Rabin lost a string, Fish lost a false eyelash. The first of two saw encore numbers saw Fish and David duet on Need You More before sending everyone home happy with a cover of Bukka White’s Shake ’em On Down.
A great evening showcasing not one but two fine talents that are destined to shine for some time to come. Samantha Fish is on a steady trajectory which is a blessing as we can continue to experience her regular UK visits in relatively modest venues, whilst Félix Rabin is just too good to go unnoticed for too long.
Photography and words by Phil Honley of Samantha Fish at Islington Assembly Hall on Thursday 5th March 2020. Phil has his own photography site here: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk.