The Michael Roach Band

Norwich Arts Centre

Norwich Arts Centre

The show on Thursday was not quite what I expected but was no worse for that.

Billed as a talented acoustic blues guitarist playing in a style dating back to the 1920s, backed by an eight-piece band, Roach initially fitted this description with his opening song Bring It With You When You Come.

Then he set down his guitar to perform most of the gig with microphone in hand. His band formed a stirring backing. The three-piece horn section really lifted the sound, with Paul Corry's wailing muted trumpet especially powerful.

Lead guitarist George “Jackie” Lee, who like Roach hails from Washington DC, brought the pedigree of having played with soul stars such as Ray Charles and Wilson Pickett and added an icy, wah-wah tinged sound.

Always at the forefront, however, were Roach's impassioned, soulful vocals.

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Curtis Mayfield's beautiful People Get Ready was a highlight, as were the title track from Roach's new album I Betcha and his cover of Hank Ballard's Let's Go Let's Go Let's Go.

A memorable evening from a charismatic performer.

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