A FESTIVAL reaching its 25th anniversary deserves something special – and on Saturday night, boy did Burnley get it.

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes were making their debut at the Mechanics and left the audience stunned with a powerhouse of a show, which the band seemed to enjoy as much as the crowd. Southside is the ultimate band leader, a bundle of charismatic energy conducting the musicians, changing tempos, and orchestrating solos.

For Burnley, the set did include more blues-based numbers than a normal Southside show, if there is such a thing.

But the overall package was a sparkling blend of blues, rock and soul. With every band member an outstanding musician in their own right, there was a freedom on stage, with everyone effortlessly working together. When the full power of the three-man horn section was unleashed, the effect was sensational.

The set included some Southside staples, including Talk To Me, Reach Up And Touch The Sky, a fine singalong version of Walk Away Renee, and a powerful rendition of Springsteen’s The Fever. This was a fitting climax to a great night which had earlier seen two of the brightest upcoming bands on the same bill. David Migden and the Dirty Words showed some amazing versatility with a blend of soul, blues, and gospel, and the hard-driving Hokie Joint were great value.