Young British Blues guitarist Toby Lee has been described by non other than one of the finest blues rock guitarists of all time, Joe Bonamassa, as a future superstar of the blues. I caught a brief glimpse of this teenager’s immense talent when he played a short set prior to Billy Gibbon’s own show in Birmingham last year.

The Temperance is an intimate venue in the basement or cellar of what is a café during the day and bar at night. Toby played a show here around twelve months ago and tonight’s event has been sold out from almost when the tickets went on sale.

Toby and his band, Joe Harris on drums, Chris Faddon on rhythm guitar and Sam Collins on bass began tonight’s performance with a number that sounded like `When The Chips Go Wrong` before sharing `Into the Light` from his forthcoming album `House on Fire`. The pick, for me from this first forty minute set was the heartbreaking `The Search For Happiness` where his guitar almost cried, the bluesy slow burn `No need to Lie`, which was also another from the upcoming album and `Patient Waiting`. Toby is currently undertaking two simultaneous tours, one as special guest and part of Jools Holland’s band and the other with his own band. He will have played one hundred and ten shows between these tours before the year is out.

The quartet return after a short interval with `Crossroads`, the song made famous by Cream / Eric Clapton prior to sharing title track `House On Fire` from the upcoming album which is due out in October, a real head nodding foot tapper which had a kind of Summer vibe. The fellas share their take on a classic with the Leiber Stoller written `Kansas City` which becomes delightfully reflective and dreamy before waking us up with Sam Cooke’s soulful r&b standard `Bring it on Home to Me`. We enjoy Toby’s reflections on how he obtained his guitar Micky, a 1964 Gibson Firebird V, which he sold his 1963 Volkswagen Beetle to purchase and his planned visit, the next day, to meet his old headmaster, as he grew up near tonight’s venue. `Saviour` gets an airing as it did after somebody passed out in this locale when the band last played here. The band agree to `rock it up` on the final part of this evening’s presentation and deliver a stunning version of Jeff Healy’s `See the Light` before a kind of encore of sorts with a blistering track off the new release in `Fever`.

There was so much to enjoy tonight during the band’s relaxed ninety minute performance in this intimate venue which included a few covers which the guys made their own and a few originals. For a young man who has had so much praise heaped upon him at such an early age, he seems wonderfully grounded and spent time chatting with fans at the merchandise stall afterwards, which was manned by his mom and dad. The new album sounds like a belter and a twelve date tour is already pencilled in to promote its release in October. I would suggest purchasing an advanced ticket to ensure you get to see this marvellous home grown blues sensation in an intimate sized venue while you still can.  

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