REVIEW: Sari Schorr & The Engine Room, Waterloo Music Bar

Sari Schorr
Sari Schorr
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It is an unfortunate truth that superlatives are often over or misused in today’s society with words such as ‘brilliant’ and ‘awesome’ being attributed to something that is, in reality, merely average.

However, in the case of New York Blues Hall of Fame inductee Sari Schorr and her band The Engine Room there are just not enough superlatives to go round. As she proved at the Waterloo, this band is simply world class.

Following a fascinating acoustic set from Preston’s Jamie Brewer that brought to mind the likes of Pat Metheny and Blackpool’s own John Gomm, The Engine Room laid down a smooth slow blues groove before Sari Schorr erupted on to the stage like a force of nature.

From the traditional blues of Demolition Man to the staccato funk overtones of Oklahoma, the range and power of her voice is simply breathtaking, drawing the audience into her performance at every turn.

Comparisons have been made to Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and Bettye Lavette but to make comparisons is almost to do her a disservice: Sari’s voice is uniquely her own.

It is sensuous, sultry and powerfully seductive and she has an uncanny ability to make you feel, even in a crowded auditorium, that she is singing just for you.

Her soulful powerhouse reworking of the classic Black Betty and the heart wrenching pathos of Ordinary Life (inspired by her humanitarian work in Haiti) took the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride from unbridled joy to deep introspection before her voice took on an almost operatic timbre in the poignantly exhilarating Aunt Hazel.

Sari’s band, including our own multi-talented Adrian Gautrey on keys, are the perfect compliment to her fusion of styles, floating seamlessly from silky understatement to raw energy and power.

They are tight and professional but ooze an exuberance that can only come from a true love of what they do. It was this obvious passion and belief that gave the show a feeling of true intimacy, leaving everyone both exhilarated and quietly satisfied.

TONY BARNES