The Cinelli Brothers – live at The Hampton Club 8 October 2023

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Review by Tim Marcus with photos from Sam Conquest Photography

Tonight we’re at our second “new” venue in the space of four days and it’s another surprisingly local one too, The Hampton Club, close to the banks of the suburban river Thames and just a stone’s throw from the home of Henry VIII. It’s an impromptu visit as we only became aware of the gig 48 hours beforehand, which again is a surprise given that the band we’re here to see are much in demand, the Cinelli Brothers.

The Cinelli Brothers are a rather surprising and refreshing quartet who specialise in both writing and playing great traditional Chicago style blues. Surprising, because for a foursome so young, they possess so much talent, both as a group and individually which results in a wonderfully mature delivery of great music and performance. Only up and running since 2018, the Cinelli Brothers already have a string of awards to their name and perhaps most notably, after winning both the UK and European Blues challenges in 2022, they went on to represent the UK at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis at the beginning of this year where they finished in second place overall against numerous competitors from the US and across the world.

The Cinelli Brothers are made up of London-based Italian brothers Marco and Alessandro. Marco plays keyboards and guitar in addition to singing. Alessandro is the band’s primary percussionist. I say percussionist as merely calling him a drummer, to my mind would not do justice to his talent as he makes use of all the tools available to him (and unlike many of his generation of drummers/percussionists, he actually holds his stick and brushes in his non-dominant hand “correctly” in the classical style!). The remaining fifty per cent of the band comprises harmonica player and vocalist, Tom Julian-Jones and bass player Stephen Giry.

However, the line-up and role that each member in the band plays is not quite as simple as that. Whilst the majority of the lead vocal work is taken on by Marco or Tom, you shouldn’t be surprised at any point during a live performance to see that role taken on by Stephen, or even on occasion Alessandro. In fact, at a Cinelli Brothers show (and tonight is no exception) don’t expect to see or hear the same person playing the same instrument for more than two consecutive songs before they have a quick switch around. Marco will be playing keyboards for one song and for the next he could be playing guitar or bass. Tom on the other hand whilst predominantly on harmonica and vocals will often swap his harmonica for a guitar or even the keyboards. Bassist Stephen will also play lead guitar on some numbers as well taking on the lead vocal role in fact for one number this evening, “Last Cigarette”, was even in the drum stool whilst Alessandro came out front to play bass: so much talent in just one band you just can’t help but feel sorry for any other band that has to share a stage with them!

Back to tonight specifically though and you won’t be surprised to hear me saying what a great show it is. Whilst the two sets we hear this evening are predominantly their own compositions, my three personal favourites, all played tonight, are “Married Woman”, “Grandchildren of the Blues” and “Prayer”, the latter, a song that Marco tells us they specifically wrote to play in their performances at the International Blues Challenge. We also get a few great covers thrown into the mix, including the first set opener, Ry Cooder’s “The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor)”, JJ Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze”, Rory Gallagher’s “A Million Miles Away”, and their encore song at the end of the second set, a version of AC/DC’s “The Rocker” which sees both Stephen and Marco down off the stage and playing in amongst the crowd who by this time have been encouraged to stand up and dance.

It’s a great conclusion to a fabulous night, at a wonderful venue, to which we shall be returning, I have no doubt. Hopefully the Cinelli Brothers will be returning here too at some time in the not-too-distant future however these boys just get better and better each time we see them (this being the third occasion in the past 7 months) and they’re no doubt destined to be playing, and filling, much larger (and perhaps sadly, less intimate) venues than this, so rapidly is their star now rising. If you’ve not yet seen the Cinelli Brothers then I really recommend that you do as until you do, you will not be able to fully appreciate just what it is that you’ve been missing.

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