Sheffield O2 Academy, April 15 2017

There are silver linings. And then there are silver linings.

If the news that King King had been forced to postpone their HRH Blues headline set had genuinely upset swathes of fans, then few could grumble at the hastily pulled together compensation package.

A specially extended Ten Years After show was just what the doctor ordered. Whether it was what their doctor ordered is another matter: with a combined age of 213 the band’s three senior members – Ric Lee, Chick Churchill and ‘new boy’ Colin Hodgkinson – should surely be winding down, rather than ramping it up. But there’s no rest for the wicked in the world of blues rock.

And Ten Years After are genuinely wicked.

Opening up with Land Of Vandals before seguing into One Of These Days, there was no easing into this elongated set. Lee, Churchill and Hodgkinson stormed out of the blocks led by the irrepressible Marcus Bonfanti.

A seasoned bluesman in his own right, the singer and guitarist was recruited in 2014 to take Ten Years After a decade further down the line. Slowly but surely Bonfanti has found his feet among genuine giants of the genre and in Sheffield he looked like the perfect fit.

It’s clear a performer who’s opened up for Chuck Berry, Jack Bruce and Robert Cray doesn’t lack confidence but following in the footsteps of the late, great Alvin Lee requires a degree of sensitivity and a sense of respect. Bonfanti somehow manages to tread that fine line between self-assured showmanship and due reverence to his predecessor’s memory.

At the ripe old age of 71 Ric Lee really shouldn’t be producing epic drum solos on the scale of his Steel City turn but he is. And he can still talk a good game – bringing a smile to the faces of fans celebrating 50 years of a brilliant band before introducing the iconic Love Like A Man.

HRH Blues III had no right to expect such a sensational set but Ten Years After simply don’t do ordinary. Wrapping up with Choo Choo Mama, theirs was a special performance that proved there’s life in the old dog yet.

Setlist

Land of Vandals

One of These Days

I’d Love to Change the World

Silverspoon Lady

Bottle

Colin’s Thing (Bass Solo)

50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain

Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry cover)

Hobbit (Drum Solo)

Love Like a Man

I Say Yeah

Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl (Sonny Boy Williamson cover)

I’m Going Home

Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins cover)

Encore:

I Woke Up This Morning

Choo Choo Mama