Samantha Fish @ The Gov, Adelaide 25/2/2023

Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Samantha Fish grew up in a musical family. She started playing drums but at fifteen years of age, turned to the guitar. She was drawn to the blues through listening to Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan and to rock music through Tom Petty and cites The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers as an influential moment. Samantha has released around a dozen albums, as a solo artist and also on collaboration with others. Her latest album release is 2021’s Faster.

First up local artists Jane Murdoch and Jim Bonner adorned the stage for a set of original and cover songs. Opening with Shrinking Violet with Jane on guitar and Jim on percussion and backing vocals, the duo soon had the crowd interested in what they were playing. Jim took lead vocals on a cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games, “the short version” laughed Jane at the end and also on Steve Miller’s The Joker. By the time Jane got through In the Now, Deception and Trust, the area in front of the stage was starting to fill with dancers and people impressed with what the duo were doing.

As soon as the support set finished, more people began descending to the front of stage. There was an anticipation in the air that this could be something special. With MC5’s Kick Out the Jams ‘Mother Fker’ blaring out the P.A., Samantha Fish and band walked on stage, all dressed in black. Samantha was armed with a cigar box guitar and after a quick “How we doing, yeah?” kicked in to Bulletproof. It was loud, a sledgehammer between the eyes loud.

A quick change to a white guitar and in to Better Be Lonely, the feedback bleeding from the P.A. adding to the electricity already in the air. Twisted Ambition quickly followed before the melodic Hello Stranger slowed things down a touch. “I think we picked the right town in Adelaide for the last date of the tour” Samantha announced after the song.

The songs played were extended with some great jamming between Samantha’s guitar and the band, especially with Matt Wade on keyboards. This show was not a solo show with just a backing band but a full band effort. Sarah Tomek hit the drums as hard as I have ever seen anyone hit drums and played like an energiser bunny. Ron Johnson on bass sat back and just kept the whole thing together, smiling most of the night.

Don’t Say You Love Me has a real blues feel and Somebody’s Always Try started hard but degenerated into a slow keyboard/guitar blues that sounded a bit like The Doors jamming live. Wonderful.

The band left the stage and Samantha strapped on an acoustic guitar for a couple of songs, one being a cover of Alicia Keys If I Was Your Woman. The normal Gov murmur that is usually heard during quieter songs of bands was absent for Samantha, people were listening.

With the band back, it took a while to pick Neil Young’s Don’t Let It Bring You Down, such was the power it was played with. Things got louder for Bitch on the Run and So-Called Lover pushed the P.A, limits to the point of distortion.

Dream Girl brought it all down again with some wonderful otherworldly vocals before once again, moving into a long jam with some amazing guitar solos. Samantha is the real deal guitarist. She has no one to hide behind on stage, she is the only guitarist on stage.

The set closed with another fine blues/rock song in the 2013 Black Howling Wind a fast and furious tune to close it all out. Samantha bought the cigar box guitar out again for the encore which was basically just another extended wonderful jam that pushed the boundaries of belief in musicianship of the girl and band. Leaving the stage for the final time, Samantha thanked us for coming along and promised she would be back soon.

February is way too soon to be sprouting words like “concert of the year” but I am guessing this one will be amongst the mix when looking back at the year, in December.

I awoke the following morning, ears still ringing, despite wearing earplugs the night before, my brain still melting and the body still riding the high of the music played.

Rock and roll doesn’t get any better than this.

Live Review By Geoff Jenke

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