It was a wet and windy evening in London tonight, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit, as the queue stretched around the block for the final night of the ‘Rockin’ The Blues’ Tour. As the Forum filled up with gig goers ready for an amazing night of blues-rock featuring the talents of Kris Barras, Jonny Lang, and the legendary Walter Trout, it was clear it we were going to be in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat.
Kicking off the proceedings was the indomitable Paul Anthony of Planet Rock, a staunch supporter of the UK music scene, and host of PR’s very successful morning show. Up first was the UK blue-rock scenes rising star, Kris Barras. Kris is always a joy to behold. Full of energy and backed by an extremely tight band, he always delivers. Playing through a rapid-fire set of fan favourites including ‘Propane’, and ‘Watching Over Me’ which was played in tribute to his late father. He also wowed the crowd with a blistering cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock N Roll’ before closing out his set with ‘Hail Mary’.
With the crowd suitably fired up, Paul Anthony returned to the stage once more to introduce the legendary Walter Trout. Fired up and back performing with a new lease on life since his near death experience five years ago, Trout gave us a master-class in the blues and stage craft. Playing through tracks off latest album Survivor Blues as well as a selection of songs across his extensive back-catalogue, he opened up to the audience about the experiences that he and his family endured with the failure of his liver, and his comeback which culminated in the Battle Scars album. Having to learn to effectively live again, Walter not only had to learn how to speak, but also play the guitar again. He truly is a blues survivor.
As his set expanded, he told the background stories for the various songs off Survivor Blues that the band were performing. From six-fingered Hound Dog, who couldn’t control his finger, so he did what any sensible bluesman would do – he got drunk on Jack and cut his finger off with a straight razor; something that Walter referred to as “Bluesman Health Care”, to Floyd Lee, writer of Walter’s current single, ‘Red Sun’ which has been getting a lot of airplay recently. Floyd never achieved any success and it was a proud moment for Walter to let the bluesman know that he was finally going to get something back on that song at long last.
Taking to the stage one last time, Paul Anthony introduces the final act of the night. The fiery Jonny Lang. Bridging the age gap between Kris and Walter, Jonny’s style is a mixture of blues-rock, soul, and funk with an intensity that shines through in incredible display of contortions he puts his body through. As if his body cannot contain all the joy and emotion that playing provides him, he could give Joe Cocker a run for his money, which is incredible to think as he does this without missing a lick or a note on his guitar. Performing an emotional and passionate set, Jonny Lang displayed why he’s still one of the best blues musicians on offer today.
As Jonny’s set came to a close, all three musicians returned to the stage for an “All Star Jam”. This two-song encore featured a mix of all three bands with Kris, Walter, and Jonny trading guitar riffs and sharing the guitar-playing as each of them took a turn in the spotlight backed up by the others. If the earlier performances were an introduction, than this was certainly the main event and it was clear from the crowd reaction that everyone would have been happy to see a full set from this amazing trio. Finishing off with ‘Going Down’, Andrew Elt joined the stage to show off his powerful vocal prowess. It was clear watching the performers that they had a great love and respect for each other, and their on-stage chemistry just added to what was already a brilliant night. I doubt we’ll be lucky enough to see this constellation working together again, but if we do, there is no doubt it’ll be one hell of a show.
Written by: Erik De’Viking
My Global Mind – UK Editor
Erik De’Viking is a London based freelance music journalist. His musical interests include music in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.