I’ve seen the future and the future belongs to Samantha Fish.
She can sing. Boy, can she sing.
She plays guitar. Not just a three-chord strum to help accentuate a song’s harmony. Samantha Fish shreds. Like Alex Lifeson shreds. Or, if you wish, like your favorite rock guitarist (insert here) shreds. She can play with the best of them. Dear Joe Satriani – you have your next G3 guitarist.
She’s that good. No. That great. A sight to behold on several levels.
Her voice. Simply intoxicating. A tone like no other. Almost like a drug. Give me more. She redefines ear candy. Never mind she’s an eyeful. Topped with platinum blond locks. Leather pants and high heels. Please know she rocks out on those high heels. Sometimes tippy-toe dancing while squirreling her fingers up and down the fretboard like a seasoned veteran accustomed to selling our arenas.
A blues singer who seems to have a penchant for rock music or at least bringing it to the stage. Hard driving guitar rock. Just ask the sold-out crowd at Revolution Hall on Tuesday in Portland most of whom gave this opening act a standing ovation upon completion of her nine song, 45 minute set. Something I’ve never, ever witnessed.
Ms. Fish indeed worked some magic taking it to a whole new level when it comes to her live show. She didn’t slow down. The grassroots songs take on a whole new life thanks to this darling of the blues world and her band. Quite simply, a sheer display of pure talent combined with dedicated craftsmanship fully mastered by the age of 30.
She began her set with “Bulletproof – Tangle Eye Mix” the opening track off her new album Kill Or Be Kind (released on Sept. 20) a pretty aggressive track with some unique vocalizing incorporated by way of a second mic. Rightfully, Ms. Fish filled much her short time on stage with tracks off her new album, a diverse set of songs that fully showcases her vocals and extraordinary proficiency on guitar. Just listen to “Watch It Die.” Listen again. Now try and imagine those soaring vocals live. Do the same for “Kill Or be Kind.” Then “You Got It Bad.”
Fish touches your heart with “Fair-weather” a poignant, tempered track she brings home on guitar then she pierces with “Crow Jane” a hard and heavy song from her 2017 album Chills & Fever about murdering your loved ones. She plays all the guitar parts – from the easygoing entrance to “Love Letters” to any of the sometimes head-banging solos on display all evening but especially passionate on “Little Baby.” She clutched her now signature “cigar box” guitar for “Bulletproof” and set closer “Crow Jane” while regularly switching on and off with three other guitars (sometimes in the middle of songs) all evening ripping off those solos that made the studio versions sound docile.
I first heard of Samantha Fish several months ago and she came with rave reviews. For whatever reason her name stuck with me and then I heard she was coming to town. Of course by he time I rolled around to getting tickets the show was sold out but thankfully the great Revolution Hall has this deal where you can buy tickets from attendees who can no longer make the show!
Yes, the Blues lay the ground work for much of today’s music but the Blues of yesteryear never really spoke to me as it impresses far less when listening casually at home. That doesn’t mean I quickly dismiss the genre. I think of it more like fine art that needs a while to soak in, requires a tangible experience or some explanation from someone who knows better than me.
Admittedly, Fish’s music took several spins to establish those melodic channels – not that it’s hard to listen to as in not enjoyable, but when you come mostly from the world of rock music with driving guitars, sometimes heavy, fast-paced chords and a blitz of melodies, the slow down of blues creates the crawling sensation that occurs after realizing the speedometer touched 85 mph on the freeway so you dial it back to lawful speed. But as I prepared for the concert I noticed a gradual feeling of fulfillment for Ms. Fish’s craft as the musical ruts formed and I started listening over and over gradually getting up to speed… casually at home.
Now, after Tuesday’s show, Samantha Fish has sealed a new audio sensation that now emanates from her records.
You probably won’t fully get it until you hear this belle of the west. Live, not on Memorex.
Samantha Fish Setlist in Portland at Revolution Hall
- Kill or Be Kind
- Watch It Die
- Love Letters
- She Don’t Live Around Here
- You Got it bad
- Little Baby
- Crow Jane