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Sometimes I feel as though female guitarists get put into some musical sub-category and never given enough credit. Remember how Bonnie Raitt was referred to as an 'unknown blues singer' after her recent - but not her first, Grammy win? So for some of us, the name Ana Popovich may have snuck under the radar and it shouldn't have. Who is Ana Popovich? I hear you ask. Well she's well known in jazz circles for her blend of jazz-funk, blues rock. She's the only female guitarist to be included in the 2014-2018 all-star Experience Hendrix tribute, Bruce Springsteen has spoken highly of her guitar playing, she's a feminist, an activist, oh and she's also kicked cancer's butt, so she's a warrior and a fighter too.

After a short overture from her band - more on them later - Ana takes to the stage with cheers from the London crowd. Not only does she have elegance, sass and a great stage presence, as The Boss says, she's one helluva guitar player too.

The setlist featured several songs rom the forthcoming new album She has her own sound and style, and has pretty much re-invented herself with every album. From the laid back vibes on tracks like 'Luv n Touch', to the incendiary 'Object of Obsession' and 'Can You Stand The Heat'. 'Queen of The Pack', taken from the new album is a track about being assertive, but it's also a tongue in cheek song inspired by her band mates calling her 'The Boss Lady'.

Talking of the exceptional band, (Buthel Burns – Bass guitar, Backing Vocals. Jerry Kelley – Drums, Backing Vocals. Michele Papadia – Keyboards. Claudio Giovagnoli – Saxophone. Davide Ghidoni – Trumpet), they clearly love a bit of on stage spontaneity, with improvising being de-rigueur throughout the set.

Back to the new album and 'Rise Up', written by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, is an uplifting anthem to end an electrifying night of superb musicianship and shows Ana Popovic is a tour de force. As the name of her new album suggests she does in-deed have the Power and she intends to use her music as a unifying force.

Supporting Ana was Toby Lee, heralded as the "future superstar of the blues" by Joe Bonamassa no less. Toby is only just 18, but has already had a firm grounding on playing live having appeared on The Ellen Show, School of Rock in the West End. His band are also exceptional young musicians. Their short but impressive set included an excellent cover of Jeff Healey's "Can You See the Light". If he is indeed the future of the blues, it's surely in safe hands. Toby Lee and his band are certainly one to keep a close eye on during the next few years.

Photos by Gerry Driver

Review by Cathy Clark

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