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MOCT Live at Liverpool MarinaThe name M.O.C.T. – Men of Considerable Taste – may not instantly be recognizable to any blues fans – however, it is the new name for the brilliant Dutch band, The Backbones – led by the charismatic Big Pete – aka Pieter van der Pluijm – with his staggering harmonica playing and great voice, in the company of the other crack musicians, namely Sander Kooiman (guitar), Jules van Brakel (bass) and Joost Tazelaar (drums).

Their welcome return to Liverpool, after last year’s gig, was played to a packed club, and two lengthy sets saw a mix of choice blues covers and new songs from their brand new album, “Look At The Time” on the Dutch label, Coolbuzz Records – with the new material having a decidedly soulful feel, a nice contrast to the high energy blues associated with The Backbones, although fear not, plenty of that was on offer in the show.

Big Pete was on peerless form, as in the first set he ‘doffed his cap’ to the legendary Junior Wells on a blistering “Country Girl” and another of the great man’s songs in the form of “Come On In This House” – his harmonica tone was quite superb, with an added treat being the guitar playing of Sander Kooiman – who apart from some glorious solos, showed what a top rhythm player he is.

From the new album the band featured the funky “Turn Your Lights Down Low”, with some driving wah-wah guitar from Kooiman, and the soulful title cut, “Look At The Time” – showing that apart from his harmonica prowess, Big Pete possesses a mighty fine voice that has definitely improved over the years.

The second set caught fire with an opening triple blast that simply took the breath away, starting with the Lester Butler song, “Way Down South” – incidentally featured on the new album by the all-star blues collective, The Mannish Boys, with Big Pete on vocals – followed by some more inspired slow blues from the band on “Early In The Morning”, before a return to some more Lester Butler on the sinister, “So Lowdown” . . . all breathtaking stuff.

Some more highlights of the second set was a great Texas shuffle style interpretation of Robert Johnson’s “Rambling On My Mind”, and a romp through John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man”, with the band firing on all cylinders, driven by the exemplary rhythm section of Jules van Brakel and Joost Tazelaar, who are also among Europe’s finest.
A much demanded encore saw the fierce, driving “Boogie Disease”, also from the new album, a terrific end to a special night . . . and in the words of genial MC, Lionel Ross . . . “awesome” . . . you wouldn’t have found anyone arguing that point. For me a thoroughly enjoyable first visit to a fine venue, with a great room and superb sound – well done to John and Lorraine Welsh for bringing such a fine band to Liverpool.