On a really cold night, in a coffee shop come bar, with a kind of chattering classes beer keller upstairs and overlooking the resplendent River Wye with the lights of the cathedral glittering in its mercurial and ponderous water, Tom Griffin launched his five-track EP- Feelin’ the Pinch, with a live set that showed a confidence, skill, showmanship and quality song writing ability which sets him head and shoulders above his peers.

Tom chose Hereford as he spent his formative years here; attending secondary school and honing his drinking skills and he could think of no better place to release his debut disc than the place he grew up in. This was apparent in the warm, loud and positive reaction of the crowd throughout both of Tom's sets. With his particular brand of urban blues, jazz folk crossover (difficult boy to pigeon hole)Tom held the audience in the palm of his metaphoric hand for the duration of the gig taking them through a roller coaster of styles, emotions and talent.

The mix for both sets was crisp and sharp and allowed Tom to vocally express himself in a way that showed his range both singing and in his ability to find his way round his blues and old American favourite - the parlour guitar and to show his skill on the electric to fine effect. Tom opened with his fine version of ‘Mary don’t you weep’ which showed his passion, his skill, his quality of guitarmanship and his love for the blues. He followed this with ‘Ain’t no place like home’ a self-penned and ardent response to his time spent in a developing nation doing relief work. One of my favourite tracks on the EP. This was followed by ‘Billie Jean’ a great stripped down version and audience participation favourite. ‘Lonesome traveller ‘placed mid first set was rollicking good fun and a great crowd pleaser, foot stomper and table basher. I think the only people not singing along must have been on the other side of the city. ‘Midnight Special’ was next, a beautifully addressed and performed blues standard followed by an equally well executed version of Charley Patton’s classic ‘Green River Blues’ given a new lease of life and flavour by Tom. The first set closed with an old Northern folk song –‘I’ve just seen a face’ by that well known duo Lennon and McCartney, Tom nailed this and made it one of his own and finished the first set with us all wanting a bit more.

After tea and biscuits and maybe a Butty Bach or two, Tom retook the stage, picked up the electric and took us through anther dazzling body of work. ‘Word on the Street/Mary had a little lamb’ a self-penned instrumental, seamlessly joined with an old blues standard. ‘Boogie rage’ showed Toms growing confidence as a performer trying out this new number which seemed to go down well. ‘All I can’ and ‘Smoking gun’ both on the eponymous EP and both great songs followed and were played and sung with passion and fire. ‘Johnny B Goode’ Toms version of the Chuck Berry classic was stripped back, slowed down and laid bare but the component parts were all there and an original and well performed version was the result. Then Tom pleasantly surprised everyone a played ‘Scruff’ an instrumental jazz/ blues/ Floyd like fusion which can only be described as sublime, when finished there was such a positive crowd response I thought it would be difficult to follow but Tom persevered and followed this with ‘Step down’ one of the only three chord songs he has in his self-penned repertoire, but I see why he keeps performing it, a great song, lyrically dark and melancholy with a beautiful sad, lilting melody which bounces around in your head and you find yourself whistling it days later wondering which radio station you heard it on.‘Feelin’ the pinch ‘was next, a socialist inspired anthem worthy of Dylan, Bragg or for that matter Guthrie, however it is a great Tom Griffin song, passionate , verdant, lyrically strong with a sense of its own worth one of the stand out tracks on the EP. At this late stage in the gig, Tom in an effort to quell the vociferous urges of the crowd and their demands for a second coming obliged by giving them another blast of ‘Lonesome traveller’, which culminated in, it sounded like, almost everyone in Hereford joining in and to a great moving of feet and bashing of tables. Whilst the audience showed their appreciation and before the clapping died down Tom broke into ‘Pen y lan’ a truly great love song which lyrically does not mention love at all, but has an uplifting and inspired chorus that you will sing for days…whether you want to or not. All in all a great night out seeing a truly remarkable new talent and although it is only a relatively small intimate venue, in years to come if you were there you will be able to say "Yeah, I saw him in Hereford, in that coffee shop by the river, he rocked that night!"