Kenny Wayne Shepherd plays a Halloween Treat at The Tramshed tonight. Opening the cauldron of fiery guitar curling around the blues, we have Laurence Jones Band. Tonight over six numbers Laurence and his new(ish) band demonstrated a maturity the love of rock infused with blues and so much more. Tonight his guitar cried and fought off any ghouls and demons in the room. This you have come to expect of this young British Gunslinger who has been wooing the crowds for many a year despite his youth. Tonight, at The Tramshed Laurence’s vocals came of age adding to the act as he played a mix of numbers, including two tracks from his latest album The Truth – Give Me Your Time & Never Good Enough, and they were definitely rawer rockier. The rhythm combination of Phil Wilson & Greg Smith works really well creating an imaginative and solid foundation for Laurence to soar from. The addition of Bennett Holland’s lively keys gives the band an additional range of tones and structure for the numbers. Closing with Hendrix’s version of Dylan’s Classic All Along The Watchtower. We had had a fizzing and bubbling helping of live music the band played tight and the music excited. This is modern melodic rock hardened blues this is a band that connects with the music and are enjoying playing for the audience. It was appreciated.
Short break as the stage was rearranged and the main event started as the stage darkened the band took their place to cheers of anticipation. The lights went up as the first of many sweet guitar chords was struck from Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Stratocaster and resounded around the Tramshed. We were off on a journey of blues guitar extravaganza with some rock, hints of country and a very large swirling dollop of Kenny Wayne Shepherd magic.
The lead breaks were scintillating Kenny certainly makes the Strat bend to his fingers demands as it weeps, curls around tones of joy and pain. Tonight the setlist was a mix of old and new with six tracks from his current acclaimed album Lay It On Down. Of the six numbers, Diamonds and Gold stood out. It was a superb and stellar highlight among the many that the band shared with us tonight. The ballad Hard Lesson Learned with Noel’s vocals also caught the ear and raised the joy of the audience. SRV’s House Is Rockin definitely got the Tramshed bouncing and rocking with pure delight.
As Kenny introduces the band in the absence of Chris Clayton, for this tour sees the return of Sylvester “Sam” Bryant (toured with the band in the 1990’s); bassist Kevin McCormick, Joe Krown presiding over the keys and the mighty vocals of Noah Hunt. A marvellous live version of Baby Got Gone from his latest album, they really have this number captured for the energy of a live performance, with its emotional lead break simply breathtaking. Kenny inserted into the set a number from his side project The Rides from their 2013 album Can’t Get Enough; Talk To Me Baby a superb re-shaping of this Elmore James’ blues classic.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd closed the night with some blues, slow and full of authentic Chicago Blues with a medley of BB King numbers and then Shotgun Blues. What an evening full of exploration of the power of the six-stringed Stratocaster. Tonight we saw three forms including his signature guitar and what tone KWS pulled from the black beast. The lights dimmed, silence fell on the stage as the band left. The noise though was reaching crescendo point as they stamped their feet and demanded more. The band did not resist. Back on stage with two more numbers his signature tune Black on Blue followed by the second Hendrix of the night. Both acts ended with Hendrix, and so appropriate for tonight we were entertained by KWS, Voodoo Chile and phenomenal playing.
From the first few notes the temperature in the Tramshed definitely rose, there was that feeling of electric joy and anticipation that only live music brings. When you hear a band you love to play in a venue near to where you live, welcome to Wales KWS; come back very soon there will always be a warm welcome for the band and the music that you showcased tonight. By the end of the evening, the cauldron was boiling with energised musical magic on Halloween in Cardiff.