Review and Photos by Patrick Dunn
Samantha Fish Faster Tour 2022
The fact that it was a Sunday night and temperatures had plunged below zero didn’t discourage devoted fans of Samantha Fish from lining up outside the Fine Line to get a prime spot for her first show back in Minneapolis since before the pandemic. Her name was prominently displayed on an eye-catching backdrop that perfectly complimented her edgy red leather outfit and sassy blond curls. The venue was an excellent fit for this show, offering a near capacity audience the option to be a part of the action right up front or take a more laid-back approach still with a great vantage point from the seats upstairs. I’d also give a high rating on sound quality, which included a pleasing mix that remained at a comfortable but rockin’ level for the entire show.
There appeared to be an extra level of determination amongst the 4-piece band to turn out something extra special with this being their final tour date before the holiday break. The set starter Bulletproof has been consistent for this run of shows and is perfectly suited to build audience engagement. The band skillfully utilized the songs’ shifting dynamics to encourage an exchange of energy back-and-forth with fans, an element Fish is intent on establishing at all her shows. While the tune is built around her swampy slide work on a 4-string Cigar Box Guitar, Fish’s vocals are what caught my attention. When she nailed certain high notes, Fish chose to sustain them out a bit beyond the beat, which felt great stylistically and added a sense of ache and longing. The song seemed to organically grow in intensity and eventually launched into an extended solo section that got the crowd fired up and had them calling out for more.
Keeping momentum, they flowed directly into two fresh tracks off the most recent release Faster. Sarah Tomek and Ron Johnson established exceptional groove for both on drums and bass respectively, which proved to be an important component throughout the entire performance. When it came to harmonies and free-style jamming, Fish interacted more with Keyboardist Matt Wade, whose most impactful soloing efforts happened during Kill or Be Kind and Bitch on the Run.
Although Fish is primarily labeled a blues artist, her material fits into multiple genres leading to a diverse range of styles that get represented during the live shows. The band’s throw-back cover of Hello Stranger was wonderfully soulful while the ultra-modern Hypnotic leaned more towards pop. The title track to Faster had more of a power-pop feel, but also clearly benefits from Fish’s harder rock influences. One of the evening’s most impressive moments happened about midway through when Fish commanded the stage alone for a two-song solo acoustic set. Eliminating all other instrumentation offered an unobstructed view into just how skilled a guitarist she really is. On top of that, her version of If I Was Your Woman must also be called out for producing some of her finest singing of the night.
With that being said, I would still point to blues as the driving force behind the two-hour performance. No Angels was a definite standout. The opening riff immediately generated a positive crowd response and established the song’s infectious groove. This was the one song Fish really took her time on, exploring an array of tones and techniques during some slow blues on her white Gibson SG. Finally, the shows best rocker would have to be Bitch on the Run, which also included the crowd’s best efforts singing along to “right now, right now I’m feeling it”. Fish did return to the stage and closed out the evening with an encore performance of the Black Crowes Shake ‘em On Down.
Link here for the most current list of Samantha Fish 2023 Tour Dates
Bulletproof – Tangle Eye Mix
All Ice No Whiskey
Hello Stranger (Barbara Lewis cover)
Highway’s Holding Me Now
Better Be Lonely
Kill Or Be Kind
Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1 (solo acoustic)
If I Was Your Woman (Gladys Knight cover) (solo acoustic)
Watch It Die
Bitch on the Run
Black Wind Howlin’
Shake ‘em On Down (Black Crowes cover)