HAVING played the first Burnley Blues Festival in 1988, it was fitting that Mike Sanchez was invited back to headline the opening night of the event’s 25th anniversary, at Burnley Mechanics.

The former Big Town Playboy was making a rare outing with his full band, and produced close to two hours of piano-driven entertainment. Whether it was the sense of the occasion, or the majority of the audience who were resolutely determined to stay in their seats, but for regular Sanchez watchers this was a somewhat subdued performance from someone renowned as a showman.

That said, it’s all relative, and Sanchez not quite on full power is enough to blow away most bands you’ll see. With a set ranging from Howlin’ Wolf to Bo Diddley, and even a bit of a Robert Plant impression thrown in for good measure, there was certainly something for everyone.

The band was augmented by two female singers, and it was when the full band was operating at full strength that the opening night party really got under way.

Earlier, there was an impressive set from Rollo Markee and the Tailfeathers. His stunning blues harp playing, and tight band, got things off to a cracking start.