Born Healer – The Cavern Freehouse Raynes Park, 2 November 2023

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Review by Tim Marcus with photos from Sam Conquest Photography

We’re back at The Cavern in Raynes Park tonight to see one of our favourite blues rock outfits, Born Healer. It’s been around four months since we last saw them and closer to nine since we last saw them at this particular venue

Having had a busy twelve months, including a few festival dates up and down the country, the band’s pocket rocket of a vocalist, Helen Turner, tells us that this evening is their penultimate gig of the year. As I’ve already eluded to, we’ve seen Born Healer a couple of times already this year however this evening their setlist is has changed slightly from the one we’ve become used to; a couple of new songs, a change in the running order and a cover I’ve not heard them do before.

Kicking things off with “Grievin’” from their 2022 release “Herbs, Roots, Barks Etc” they quickly follow that up with a new song, “Silver Girl” and then “Share of Trouble”, also from the last album. Helen, who’s wonderfully supported by the rest of the band, her partner and fellow scot, Iain Black (guitar), along with Marek Funkas (bass) and Steve Weaver (drums), then gives a fantastic vocal performance on their first cover of the evening, “Black Coffee”, a song that goes way back but probably received most prominence when covered by the great Ella Fitzgerald some sixty plus years ago!

There’s lots of familiar material during the first of two sets played tonight too, mainly coming from the band’s most recent album, “Herbs, Roots, Barks etc” but also my favourite song of the opening hour, the title track from their 2016 debut album “Til The Dawn”, The first set is brought to a conclusion with a great cover of a song I don’t think I’ve heard Born Healer play before, and that’s The Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice”.

The second set is a mix of originals and covers. In the former category, my two favourite tracks are “Heavy Rumble” from the most recent album and “River”, a version of which appears on both albums! As to the covers in this second set, we get a couple of Led Zeppelin offerings; firstly “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, a song that showcases superbly (as do many of the songs they play), the power and control of Helen’s vocal, and a bit of a Led Zep medley, based around “Whole Lotta Love” which brings another great evening at the Cavern with Born Healer to a close.

As I’ve written on several occasions in the past, the highlight of any Born Healer show for me has always been the power, soulfulness and purity of Helen’s vocals and this evening there’s been no exception to that high standard that she sets. However equally as powerful this evening, once again I might add, has been the quality of Iain’s guitar playing. Add to that a solid, top-quality rhythm section comprising the delightfully named, Marek Funkas on bass and wonderfully talented drummer Steve Weaver (who also provides Helen with some great backing vocals) and you have one of the best blues rock bands currently playing the circuit

All in all, it’s been another great night at the Cavern with this powerful and talented foursome. I highly recommend that check them out if you get the chance. Your last opportunity to do so this year will be when they play Colne Delta Blues & Americana Club in Brightlingsea in Essex on 17th November. Beyond that, they kick off 2024 more locally to their South London base with a show at The Sound Lounge in Sutton on 27th January.

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