Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton at the Narrows Center for the Arts  

Larson Sutton on March 29, 2024
Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton at the Narrows Center for the Arts  

As their 14 months of touring together as a duo winds down, Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton gave the sold-out Narrows every resounding reason to want this partnership to live on. Supporting their Grammy-nominated Death Wish Blues, the two in black tore through over 90 minutes of blues and rock, saturated in guitar and soul-drenched singing, yet not without a few beautifully nuanced, quieter moments, mid-set. Whether electric or acoustic, hardened or soft, originals or covers, it all totaled a Saturday night performance at the old mill that shook, soothed, and shook again.

Fish and Dayton launched their evening with a frenzied trio of tunes, including the fitting, opening harbinger of “Kick Out The Jams,” followed by “Deathwish” and “Feels So Good,” reminding everyone immediately of each’s bon fides as striking guitarists and arresting singers. Fish, a firebrand whose voice seems to get richer and more affecting with every passing appearance, led more of the dozen-and-a-half entries on the setlist. Still, Dayton was just as cutting and charismatic, driving home early a take on The Clash’s “Brand New Cadillac,” and shifting easily between stinging and sweet solos.

Among the evening’s many highlights was Fish’s “No Apology.” A gut-wrenching, mid-tempo ballad from the album, in performance it was a centerpiece for an exceptionally impassioned vocal from Fish that held the capacity crowd mesmerized. Then, paring down to just the two and their acoustics, the duo offered a pair of quieter numbers, including a particularly captivating rendition of Townes Van Zandt’s “I’ll Be Here in the Morning,” accented by Dayton’s tasteful and cascading runs.

They re-ignited their ensemble, and their fretboard fire, with the album track, “Lover on the Side,” and revving up the octane ever hotter for “I Put a Spell on You,” and another shining turn from Fish. Closing the set with the Death Wish Blues single, “Riders,” the quintet then welcomed opener, Sgt. Splendor (Eric McFadden and Kate Vargas), back to the stage for a rousing encore of sparring guitars, toe-to-toe vocals, and a final standing ovation from the Narrows grateful.

Fish and Dayton will transition to their respective solo tours before reprising their partnership for international dates in May. Whatever the future may hold for them as a duo remains to be seen. If this night at the Narrows, and the preceding year on the road, insists on anything, it’s that this collaboration, death wish and all, is as lively and exhilarating a blues-rock show as it gets.