Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton ‘Death Wish Blues’ O2 Institute, Birmingham, UK

    Photography and review by Reg Richardson RSR

    It was a dark and very wet evening – sounds like the start to a new horror story, but it was, in fact, true. A group of people outside, me included, who were expecting the doors to open at 6pm were both disappointed and soaked through.

    I last saw Samantha Fish and her band towards the end of last year when she played at KK’s Steelmill just across in Wolverhampton. That was a superb gig – was this one going to be just as good having partnered on this tour with Jesse Dayton, better known as a Country Music guitarist. Was the Blues/Country mash-up going to work? Well, we’ll just have to wait until after support band, The Commoners, have had their say.

    Recognised as a ‘Roots Rock’ band and hailing from Canada, the touring 5-piece band hit the stage running and opened with More Than Mistakes, taken from last years’ album Find a Better Way but, in reality, there could hardly be a better way to start. The band had around 40 minutes to impress, and that they certainly did! Frontman, Chris Medhurst crooned admirably, often with a sense of 60’s psychedelia, adding a second guitar in


    support of Ross Hayes Citrullo’s lead. The band, as a whole, were pretty lively and the addition of the touring keyboards, played by Miles Evans-Branagh, rounds out the sound perfectly. Tonight there were 3 songs taken from last year’s album, plus a new single, Devil Teasin’ Me, released in September and several new songs presumably being aired ahead of a new album planned for release next year. The shortish set was finished off with the title track from their newest album, Find a Better Way. A rock band? They certainly are. A roots rock band? Sure, the songs drew in aspects of folk, blues and country; was this a reflection of what was to come from the Fish-Dayton headliners?

    Samantha Fish is best known as an outstanding blues-rock musician but tonight promised to be something slightly different with the addition of co-frontrunner Jesse Dayton. Dayton is known as a musician, actor and producer and in the guise of the first of these has worked alongside country music legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. In addition he’s been working quite recently with Rob Zombie as a provider of music to his films.

    The country music influence imposed by JD was clear at times but, on the whole, the blues-rock description remains pretty safe!

    They start the evening with a cover of MC5’s Kick Out the Jams, a proper rocker to get the crowd going before embarking on the first of the 12 songs taken from the pair’s new album, strangely enough called Death Wish Blues! Interspersed with the entire listing of the new album were a few songs taken from earlier Samantha Fish albums as well as the 2022 EP recorded by them called The Stardust Sessions. Probably my favourite of the night was one of those earlier Samantha Fish songs, Bulletproof, taken from 2019’s Kill or be Kind, and this was a proper stomper.

    Throughout the set the pair fire off riff after riff of solid blues-rock mashed up with some soulful tunes such as No Apology, some country-rock such as Brand New Cadillac. While JD plays alongside Samantha Fish she definitely leads the way on stage and the fans loved it.

    Two more covers make the song sheet in 7 by 7 is, a 1966 hit from Love (look them up if you’re not old enough to remember them) and the final song of the night Goin’ Down South from blues legend RL Burnside.


    Another triumphant show from Samantha Fish with her co-star Jesse Dayton, here’s til next time!



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