Stepping into The Zanzibar Club for the first time since the legendary Tony Butler passed was a strange experience.

He really was “Tony Zanzibar” – hard work sometimes when he added random, totally unsuitable bands to your bill – something I used to think he just did to me as I was a bit wet around the ears, but seemingly he did it to everyone.  Tony’s Venue – Tony’s Rules!

But he was also a lovely bloke, incredibly knowledgeable of the scene – keeping his lights on whilst other venues changed hands like most people have hot breakfasts, and he always had your back – even if he did like to wind you up occasionally!

And above all, a unique character –  NOBODY was quite like Tony, and he will always be missed!

But life goes on, and it’s nice to see his venue continue, in a way a tribute to the man himself.

Despite the fact it was internally demolished and rebuilt, with only the original frontage remaining I believe – it looks remarkably similar to how it looked before, just a lot fresher, and thankfully no leaking roof!

I heard that when the venue re-opened it had teething problems with the sound – which is a shame, because one thing the Zanzibar was known for, was great sound.

Fortunately the new owners have got to grips with the sound problems, and there were no issues with the sound tonight – The Zanzibar Club is back!

By the time the first act, Ellie Jayne Burke took to the stage there were already around 95 people eagerly awaiting the nights music, including legendary BBC Radio Merseyside DJ Billy Hui who had Joe Symes and The Loving Kind on his show recently.

It can’t be easy being the first act of the night, especially as a solo artist – stood on the stage on your own, but Ellie rose to the occasion with an impressive voice, and great tunes.  I was particularly impressed with her Britney Spears cover.

Next up was Andy Whitaker and Andy Clegg

Soap fans will recognise Andy Whitaker from playing PC Swirling in Emmerdale, but music fans will know them from their various music projects over the years ((1979-1987) Music For Aborigines, (Andy Clegg played Keyboard for the Chameleons UK),(1988) The Sun And the Moon, (1991) Weaveworld, (2005) Andy Whitaker solo – Bewilderbeast, (2009) Black Swan Lane – the Sun and The Moon sessions, Andy Clegg Solo, (2011) Kizilok).

Having met when they were 14 in the late 70s, their years of experience really show in the polish of tonight’s tunes, which were a joy to behold.

Finally it was tonights headline act – Joe Symes and The Loving Kind.

I’ve been aware of Joe Symes and The Loving Kind since I added one of their songs to a monthly video clip compilation I used to put together of Liverpool bands on YouTube called Xposure Liverpool back when the band first started in 2016.

Ever since they have been on my radar I’ve been aiming to catch them live, but for one reason or another I never made it – until now.

I must say it was well worth the wait – 18 class songs, with never a dull moment, including new songs being played for the very first time from their upcoming album “Portmanteau” which is out in the summer.  

I won’t leave it so long until I see them again.  Make sure you catch them live next time you get the opportunity.