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The Blue Stones, at The Fulford Arms

The Blue Stones, at The Fulford Arms 15th March 2022

Loud, layered, heavy, and only two people!

The Blue Stones, all the way from Canada, Tarek Jafar (lead vocals and guitarist) and Justin Tessier (percussion and backing vocals), perform at The Fulford Arms as part of their tour for the release of their 2021 album ‘Hidden Gems’. Playing to a full venue, the pair did not disappoint in bringing energy and volume despite only being two of them on the stage.

The Blue Stones are an accessible blues rock duo that bring commercial layers of contemporary gritty rock. The leading vocals emulating artists such as Bring Me the Horizon and Nothing but Thieves. Their genre is not a strand of music I necessarily enjoy, in particular the simplistic lyrics such as the repeated line “I’m rolling with the punches, hey, I’m rolling with the punches”, but for this style it can be put aside, especially as the technique, tight timings, and clean performance were executed so well.

Tarek Jafar’s vocals must be commended. Often male vocalists fall into the Brit-pop or Arctic Monkeys category of being lifeless or for the likes of Liam Gallagher, annoyingly nasal, but that is far from what Jafar achieves. He had excellent breath control, a strong belt, and a perfect 80s American rock inspired tone to his voice. Which was suddenly very evident when the duo decided to perform “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones for their encore song. A direct reference perhaps to their musical influences.

As for Justin Tessier, he was close to faultless. Considering there are only two of them in the band, Tessier could have easily been self indulgent and overzealous with his drum fills, but he had an excellent balance of bringing force, pace and a variation of dynamics to their set. A trick a lot of drummers fail to meet is that sometimes, holding back is just as important.

Despite any qualms I may have with this genre, there was no doubt that the crowd was made for The Blue Stones. The audience were clear lovers of classic American rock, and relished in the duo’s gritty and passionate performance style.

From Canada to the provincial city of York, The Blue Stones are a force to be reckoned with and I hope they return to play an even bigger venue, next time around.

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