Rock and Blues Big Weekender, Black Market Venue, 27th Jan 2024 Music Features Music Reviews by Editor - January 28, 2024January 28, 20240 In its first year, the Rock and Blues Festival has already set a high bar for future events. The festival opened with the charismatic James Oliver Band, whose mix of instrumental and rocky blues perfectly matched the energy at the Jaks Stage, described as “as cool as penguin’s piss.” Local favorites Pretty Babs made their festival debut at the Black Market Venue, showcasing a mix of new songs and familiar favorites, creating an electrifying atmosphere. Five Points Gang, a blues rock powerhouse, energized the crowd with their rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and lived up to their reputation of partying harder than anyone can. Verity Bromham followed, impressing with classic rock hits like “Mississippi Queen” and “Smoke on the Water.” Their skilled guitarists and the crowd-uniting performance of Argent’s “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You” were standout moments. The audience’s calls for an encore were met with a brilliant rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” Vincent Flatt’s Final Drive rocked the stage as “the ultimate whiskey-swigging, bad-ass kicking, go-anywhere gigging boogie band.” Their performance added a spirited edge to the evening. The Black Market venue, with its fiercely independent spirit, significantly contributed to the festival’s charm. The drinks were exceptionally well-priced and offered great value, with pints of their own brewed ales and hearty portions of food, ensuring a comfortable and affordable experience for attendees. The festival closed with Bon UK, one of the best AC/DC tribute acts in the country, focusing exclusively on the Bon Scott era. Their comprehensive set included an array of classics: “If You Want Blood,” “Touch Too Much,” “Ain’t No Fun,” “Jailbreak,” “Go Down,” “Bad Place to Be,” “Dirty Deeds,” “T.N.T.,” “Highway to Hell,” “Whole Lotta Rosie,” and ending on the electrifying “Let There Be Rock,” perfectly concluding the weekend. Looking ahead, next year’s festival has already announced Dr Feelgood, raising excitement for what promises to be another fantastic event. At a time when so many independent venues are struggling, it is heartwarming to see the Black Market venue thriving. This perfectly timed event in January, a month typically quiet for such events, showcased a perfectly curated lineup. It highlights Black Market’s keen ear for music and commitment to offering good, honest, great value food and drink. Be sure to check out this venue for events throughout the year, including their outdoor festivals. These guys clearly know what they’re doing. This inaugural Rock and Blues Festival was a resounding success, showcasing a variety of talent and leaving attendees eagerly anticipating next year’s event.