The Stumble - The Harlington, Fleet. 11 September 2022
The Stumble are quite simply one of the best live bands I have ever seen - period. I’d seen them before at festivals and suspected they were exceptional, but yesterday, close up and personal, they confirmed it. I’m not going to offer a critique here of yesterday’s performance (I’ll leave that to more knowledgeable scribes), but what I will say is this; if you’ve not seen The Stumble, your musical table is missing one hell of a main course.
When Alex Robins booked the band I recall another very experienced circuit musician saying to me “Great Band, Tough Sell”, and how right he was. But this was no reflection on the quality of the band, but rather the fact that they are relatively unknown in the South of the country. At one point in the show Paul Melville asked the crowd ‘Who’s not seen us before?” My quick hand count would suggest 80% of the room were Stumble Virgins, and that told the story. Us music fans are fickle buggers and we tend to stick to what we know. One of the many positives I do take from yesterday though is that the one hundred or so people who did take a chance on a new band, have proven their preparedness to try something unfamiliar. To each and every one of those people I say thank you, my faith is restored.
Sunday afternoon was spent seeing a new band to many of the audience. The band was The Stumble who had driven down all the way from Lincolnshire to the Harlington in Fleet to strut their stuff to an eagerly waiting crowd. Alan Bates had been spreading the word saying these guys were one of the top touring R&B bands about…..and yet again he was spot on. Right from the first song the audience were hooked and going to be fully committed fans. These boys will certainly be on everyone’s radar when they come down south again….this is one band that you could go see week on week and you would never tire of.
Iain Cameron 16.3.20
The Stumble are brilliant. I don’t mean “I have seen rock’n’roll’s future, and it’s name is Bruce Springsteen” kinda brilliant. No. I mean “It’s Saturday night, so grab yourself a beer, warm up your dancing shoes, and have a good time” - that kinda brilliant.
Their primary weapon of choice is R’n’B-orientated, as exemplified by their opening brace of originals from their most recent album The Other Side, the rocking ‘Just Stop’, and the following ‘Be My Slave’ with its tense, stomping opening and easy use of light and shade. By the time they get through these a couple of things are clear: this six piece powered by two guitars and sax, is a well-oiled rhythm machine that goes through the gears with ease, synched into the tight and unfussy bass and drums of Cam Sweetnam and new boy Luke Paget. And it’s immediately evident that when they uncork a good groove they damn sure made the most of it – a point they hammer home later with the relentless rolling boogie of ‘360 Degrees Blues’, just in case you’ve forgotten.
They underline their R’n’B credentials with some well-chosen covers, such as ‘You Upset Me Baby’, which is a perfect vehicle for one of Simon Anthony Dixon’s sax solos. Then they ignite their second set with a soulful take on Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Who’s Been Talkin’’, followed by a pumping version of his ‘Meet Me At The Bottom’, on which Colin Black cuts loose with a shiverin’n’shaking slide solo, topped off with the shuffling party time of Rosco Gordon’s ‘Just A Little Bit’, on which Dixon’s baritone sax playing inspires vocalist Paul Melville to embark on some dodgy twist moves. Travolta he ain’t.
What he is though, is a helluva singer. His voice has room-shaking power and depth for starters, but also expressiveness, which is a good combination for the slow blues of ‘All Over Again’, which puts together an excellent from Black, full of feeling, with shifts in pace and a dramatic vocal from Melville. His voice is even more to the fore on ‘My Life’, which provides a grandstand finish to their first set and eclipses their 2012 studio version. A statement of intent with a Fifties rock’n’roll ballad vibe, it ramps up the drama to a big finale, then after a lengthy pause they get the crowd bouncing with a foot-stomping, sax honking, borderline ska-inflected coda.
In a similar vein ‘Evening’ is a focal point in their second set, a twilight ballad or perhaps a rock’n’roll torch song, with Black providing a pizzicato passage in his solo before they wind it up several notches, as a prelude to Dixon easing things back down with a subtle sax solo.
Then they’re back into party mode with the likes of ‘Maudie’, a slice of swinging R’n’B that’s all ringing Chuck Berry chords and squawking sax, and the slower bump’n’grind of ‘Jumping Off The Loving Train’, featuring a couple of crackling guitar solos from Ant Scapens, the first trilling in tone, the second piercing.
They finish with some stonking soul in the form of ‘Bus Stop’, and squeeze in an encore with the dirty, slide-infected ‘The World Is Tuff’, bringing to a close two hours of no messing entertainment. Colin Black may start the evening looking like he’s entering a Billy Gibbons lookalike contest, next to a proper sharp dressed man in Simon Dixon, and Melville may appear for the second half wearing some terrible tartan trousers tucked into his boots, plus an Artful Dodger-ish top hat, but The Stumble are as down to earth an outfit as you’ll find - like New Orleans by way of The Rover’s Return. And I mean that as a compliment.
Jennifer Noble 11.07.19
"I love that band The Stumble who I discovered at the British Rock and Blues Festival in Skegness at Butlins.
I look forward to the day I can see them again. They are truly talented and should be touring the world."
Blues Matters Magazine contributor
Member of the IBBA
Chicago Blues Hall of Fame inductee 2014
Director of Photography, www.ChicagoBluesGuide.com
Member of the Blues Foundation
Ripley Live 2.2.2019
Only been attending Ripley for the last two years and I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the organisation, the friendliness and most of all the quality of the acts you are able to fund and present. It’s amazing.
On that note, last night I witnessed one of the best bands of any genre - The Stumble - that I have ever seen. Five superb instrumentalists and a terrific lead singer who were individually and collectively as good as it gets. All for£12. Don’t know how you do it but keep up the good work. Regards David Beswick
Carlisle Blues Festival 29.9.2018
Closing the afternoon session, The Stumble are everything I hoped they would be on my first encounter with them live. They let loose with three salvos from their rollicking 2016 album The Other Side, with opener ‘Just Stop’ inspiring an immediate outbreak of dancing in the corner of the room.
From the git go, singer Paul Melville simply owns the room, blending powerful vocals with teeth-clenching passion and wry schtick as they crank out hugely entertaining songs from the pen of drummer Boyd Tonner. They’ve been at it a long time these guys, and know exactly what they’re about. Tonner, along with bassist Cameron Sweetnam and guitarist Ant Scapens, dig out deep foundations over which Melville leads from the front, ably supported by sax man Simon Anthony Dixon and lead guitarist Colin Black, who rocks a Billy Gibbons look resplendent in long coat, long beard, and big hat, and delivers a great slide solo on ‘New Orleans’.
Frankly I’m having too much fun for systematic notes, but ‘My Life’ is a ballad with heartfelt vocals from Melville and a defiant uptempo coda, ‘C’mon Pretty Baby’ is rock’n’rollin’ R’n’B that brings to mind Bob Seger, and ‘Bus Stop’ (I think) is Stax-like soul featuring squealing sax from Dixon.
A new song called ‘Walk In The Park’ (maybe) has a restrained verse and tough, staccato chorus, building to a wild guitar/sax collision and a ballistic finish, before a big bluesy ballad dedicated to BB King. But these are details. The Stumble are a band built to entertain, and they do it with a bluesy rock’n’roll brew that’s all their own. Catch ‘em if you can Iain Cameron Blues Enthused
'The Stumble' closed the afternoon session with their superb Chicago style blues. Fronted by the charismatic Paul Melville on excellent vocals, Colin Black on exceptional lead and slide guitar, Simon Anthony Dixon on super sax, Ant Scapens on guitar, Cameron Sweetnam on bass and the powerhouse of Boyd Tonner on drums. Playing a repertoire of old Stumble classics from previous albums plus material from the excellent current album 'The Other Side', they certainly gave it their all, with a worthy performance, putting the Stumble in a class of their own. Just brilliant!
Belle Vue Way Social Club Ltd 23.12.17
A great nights entertainment from 2 of the best bands on the UK Blues scene at the moment. Rainbreakers opened the proceedings with a blistering set that was a mix of own material and blues classics.
I had almost forgotten just how good The Stumble can be in front of an audience, hard driving blues and soul at it's best, performed for the audience by talented musicians that have talent and experience in abundance, great entertainment! Thanks to Thomas Alan Wormald for promoting the event
BIG HOUSE BLUES BAR
The band return to Darwen's new blues venue after a successful opening night !
Keith Blackledge's review for The Stumble @ THE BIG HOUSE BLUES BAR AND GRILL, WELLINGTON FOLD, DARWEN, BB3 1AB
This new exciting venue is the dream of owners Eddie Valentine and Sam Cooper, who between them have created this fantastic BLUES establishment for live Blues music in the centre of Darwen. No expense has been spared with comfortable plush seating, new fittings and fixtures, and lighting. The stage is of ample proportions and the mixing desk, a superb system to maximise the sound from live bands which will be performing there.
The 4th August was opening night, and the place was buzzing, a great atmosphere, drinks were being served along with food and the audience was set for a great night of live music.
Preston based Blues Band THE STUMBLE, were engaged to play and entertain and they did that from the first chords struck. This six piece band have been together now for a few years and yet, in my opinion, seem to get better and better. The bands fan base is growing as well following them far and wide to hear them perform, such is the Blues genre. The band played several tracks off their new CD entitled “The Other Side” eleven tracks of superb Blues and some classic blues covers from this vastly experienced and creative band.
Colin Black on lead guitar, a superb musician and captures the true spirit of the Blues.
Paul Melville on lead vocals, you get a passionate response from this Blues Shouter and a snappy dresser.
Boyd Tonner a drummer of some repute and has the blues tattooed on his heart.
Simon Anthony Dixon, Saxophonist, nominated 5 times by the British Blues Awards, he plays a solid, soulful blues and then powers down for the big numbers.
Cameron Sweetnam on bass guitar, he has played the blues forever it seems.
Lastly a guitarist that has been around for a while and never over plays his hand, just a great performance from Anthony Scapens.
International and National Music Reviewer
Photo Rosy Greer
BOWNESS BAY BLUES FESTIVAL APRIL 2017
REVIEW FROM THE Lancashire Blues Archive
Much had been going on throughout Friday afternoon, but our first port of call was the Wheelhouse to watch the Preston based band The Stumble. It's always a treat to see this band of superb musicians and they certainly didn't disappoint. As Lancashire's finest blues men, the six piece Chicago style rhythm & blues band, never gave less than one hundred per cent in an excellent performance. Fronting the band was Paul Melville on amazing charismatic vocals, Colin Black on excellent and technically brilliant guitar and slide, Ant Scapens on rhythm guitar, Simon Anthony Dixon on super sax , Cameron Sweetnam on bass and songwriter Boyd Tonner on drums and vocals. With a mix of old and new material they received wonderful support from the packed audience. photo Jan Fialkowski
REVIEWS FROM THE ATKINSON SOUTHPORT NOVEMBER 2016
I was at the gig last night and I wanted to thank the Band for a tremendous night. I enjoyed myself from start to finish as did everyone lucky enough to be there, great musicians, great music and a real bluesy attitude. I first saw the band at the first Blues Festival at The Atkinson and thought , I want some more of that, so when I saw the gig advertised, I hightailed it to the Box Office for a ticket. Thank you for a really great night. Jimmy Burns.
Christmas lights greeted us at the Atkinson Arts Centre in Southport, making this a very festive occasion. With a great turn out for the Preston based band The Stumble the anticipation was evident as the band have a new CD on the table, 'The Other Side'.
Lancashire's finest blues men, the six piece Chicago style rhythm & blues band never give less than one hundred per cent and to me they gave one of the best performances yet. Fronting the band was Paul Melville on amazing charismatic vocals, Colin Black on excellent and technically brilliant guitar and slide, Ant Scapens on rhythm guitar, Simon Anthony Dixon on the most sexy sax I've heard, Cameron Sweetnam on bass and songwriter Boyd Tonner on power drums and vocals.
They gave us a mix of material from the new album - including the name sake, 'The Other Side' with great sax, 'New Orleans' with some classy slide and 'Command' in a great 50's style. Continuing with some classic Stumble tracks from previous albums including an epic BB Kings 'All Over Again' where Colin Black gave us an amazing heartfelt guitar solo. Favourites also played were 'This Is My Life', 'The World Is Tough' and 'Bus Stop', finishing the set with 'Bring It On Home' with a rousing encore of 'Meet Me At The Bottom'.
The Stumble have always given great entertainment, along with class musicianship and tonight was no exception. Paul Melville has a great rapport with the audience, as well as providing the most amazing and powerful vocals.
Rosy Greer - Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer http://www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive
REVIEW FROM FARNSFEILD BLUES CLUB OCTOBER 2016
Just a quick note to thank you and the guys for a fabulous gig on Saturday.
I have had some brilliant feedback and for me the atmosphere in the hall was amongst the best I have experienced.
I hope you all enjoyed the night as much and that you had safe journeys home. I hope to catch you playing again somewhere soon,
The Big Blues Festival, Southport 10/10/15
From Preston and a firm favourite in the northwest and beyond, The Stumble. They are a superb Chicago style blues band fronted by the charismatic Paul Melville on excellent vocals, Colin Black on exceptional lead and slide guitar, Simon Anthony on super sax, Antony Scapens on guitar, Cameron Sweetnam on bass and the powerhouse of Boyd Tonner on drums. They played several of their classic tracks from previous and current albums including 'Shopping', BB King's 'All Over Again' and 'Upset Me Baby', 'Crazy' and 'Heat Of The Night which will be on their new album. Their final number 'Bus Stop', a firm favourite with the audience, completed this worthy set and put the Stumble in a class of their own. Just brilliant! http://www.thestumble.com/
By Rosy Greer - Lancashire Blues Archive
The Stumble & Toyah Wilcox. 27/6/15
Lower Holker Hall, Grange-over-Sands.
Hi, So often nowadays two words go unsaid too frequently. This is just a quick email to say THANK YOU!!! I was lucky enough to see The Stumble for the first time on Saturday 27th at the above venue and they absolutely smashed it. What a tight together band, it’s not very often theses days that a vocalist, saxophonist and lead guitarist of this quality are found in the same band. I was blown away to such an extent that I downloaded 2 albums last night from iTunes and haven’t stopped listening since. Please pass my thanks and appreciation to the all the guys and keep me posted for any travels south, my haunt is the Boom Boom Club in Sutton Surrey but I could be persuaded to travel easily to hear them again. Several mates with me have said the same thing so a road trip could well be the order of the day. Kind regards Graham
REVIEW FROM CARLISLE BLUES AND ROCK FESTIVAL 2013
Lancashire heroes, hailing from Preston they are described as a red-hot and rocking six-piece band who are all about live rapturous Chicago style rhythm & blues which just about sums them up. The Stumble have gone from strength to strength over the years, with their individual R&B sound from vocalist Paul Melville, superb guitar solos from Colin Black and Rob Livesey, dynamite sax playing from British Blues Awards nominee Simon Anthony and the astounding rhythm section of Cam Sweetnam on bass and Boyd Tonner on drums. They gave an excellent performance playing many of the Stumble classics. I’m sad I didn’t get to have a chat to the guys before they left.
ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive