Review: Hans Theessink at Edinburgh Folk Club

Photo: hans theessink. Hans Theessink at Edinburgh Folk Club, 20th May, 2009

A truly memorable experience was seeing Hans Theessink perform at Edinburgh Folk Club. I don't think I have so swiftly developed admiration for a performer or enjoyed myself so much in many years. A truly gifted blues musician with a beautiful, rich baritone voice and a unique ability to connect with the audience he is most definitely a 'must-see' act.

From the minute Hans stepped on the stage I was entranced - I tried to take copious notes as I knew I would be writing a review but they were indecipherable gobledegook as I got so caught up in his performance. However, the gig was unforgettable.

I'd mentioned to a few folk that Jim was playing at Edinburgh Folk Club and that he was thrilled to be supporting Hans Theessink and various people had told me what a fantatic performer Hans was with many accolades to his name. Described by Bo Diddley as "one helluva guitar player" and recognised as " one of the top blues and roots musicians worldwide" and winner of many awards. Hugh Taylor, of Moniaive Festivals, also paid high tribute when he emailed me saying that Hans was the dogs' cajones - meaning 'the absolute apex'.

Therefore, my expectations were high, however, they were to be surpassed. Jim did a fine job opening the show with a few of his own songs and had the audience, in the lovely little theatre at The Pleasance, nicely warmed up then Hans took to the stage.

Within minutes he had the audience enraptured and we settled down to listen to every word, and indeed his diction with the slight Dutch accent, is wonderfully clear. He sang songs of love, heartache, humour and history accompanied by some slick fingerpicking and great slide guitar.

Hans moves through his varied repertoire with the confidence of a seasoned performer, however, there is a freshness and vigour about his act. The pleasure he obviously takes from the music is conveyed directly to the audience and even a break for a raffle couldn't throw a spanner in the works.

Eberhard 'Paddy' Bort, the master of ceremonies and quite a character in his own right kept the show moving along and after the break he again introduced Jim to play a few more songs before Hans returned.

Jim was also blown away by Hans performance and explained that he had changed his set list accordingly, leaving out the bluesy numbers, "because he knew that he was in the presence of a master". Jim's songs went down very well with the audience and when Hans returned to the stage he was very gracious in his praise, describing the songs as 'beautiful'.

The rest of the show was just superb and every song was a triumph including numbers such as 'Bourgeois Blues', 'Brand New Dawn' and 'St James Infirmary Blues' to 'I Shall Not Be Moved', when he even got the rather restrained Edinburgh audience clapping their hands and joining in the chorus.

Hans true love of the blues also shines through when he is talking to the audience he reveals his attractive personality through his storytelling as well as his music. Some of the songs were very much brought to life through the stories, like 'Big Bill's Guitar' inspired by a meeting with one of his heroes Big Bill Broonzy.

I had no idea that blues could encompass such a varied repertoire and I've never before seen any performer move so effortlessly between different styles of guitar playing. I particularly enjoyed the fabulous sounds of the slide guitar and I was knocked out by his version of Walk the Dog. I must have heard that song performed hundreds of times but this really was the best version ever. Kind of defining the meaning of funky.

Pat Byrne, June 2009

(We were sorry that we couldn't wait to see the end of the show and have a wee chat with Hans afterwards as we had to rush away to catch the train to Glasgow.

I could hardly believe when Hans sent me an email to say that he was sorry we didn't get to chat after the show and how much he had enjoyed Jim's performance. That makes him an even bigger star in my book, superbly talented, excellent performer and courteous to boot!)

Don't ever miss the opportunity to see Hans Theessink playing. Check his gigs here:

jim byrne myspace

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