Never Middle of The Road Eric Gales Plays Robin 2
Tonight, the blues was never going to be sitting in the Middle of The Road the music was going to fizz with energy and the crowded venue was ready to welcome Eric Gales and his band to their first visit to the U.K. and the West Midlands. As we waited for the venue to open, the difference tonight was every bag was searched a solemn reminder that going to a live music event is now overshadowed by the horrific bombing in Manchester arena just over a week ago. As many commented, this was good to see.
Before the main act of the night the Tom Walker Trio set the musical Barometer to high raising the temperature with a stylish and far too short set. With a new E.P. Into Space joining, as Tom said their other older CD, there was a good selection of the blues sound the band creates. This was Blues-Rock punctuated by funky rhythms from Deano on Bass; combined with artful drumming of Nate Barr creating the perfect musical landscape for Tom Walker to build with his guitar and vocals. The blues were at times swampy with great slide guitar as we Cross The Border with the trio off the new E.P. Blues is about timing and feel and this is a trio that has it in triplicate. Closing with a re-working of John Henry; from deep in American Folklore and early music covered by many and Tom made it his own tonight. Only, complaint I have, we wanted the impossible to hear more of Tom Walker Trio whilst at the same time we were impatient for the main act.
Short break, time to catch with friends and connect with new ones as people had traveled far what an opportunity to hear Eric Gales and his band tonight. With a fanfare and smile Eric strode on to the stage with his signature guitar held aloft. Starting the show with Silence for Manchester he commented that this was his first visit to the U.K. and genuinely overwhelmed by the crowds turning out for him and how scary it was arriving on the night the bomb went off. Like everyone he was still clearly affected by the senseless slaughter. Tonight, was about his music and we want to hear that guitar burn up the venue with his distillation of blues with funk, jazz and so much more as he connected with the audience through his music. The band tonight was more than a bedrock for his guitar to fly from they added another dimension with a wildness and stupendous musicianship this is freeform blues drenched in feeling and raw heartfelt emotions. Joining Eric on stage tonight were a double helping of percussive tones with drummer Nick Hayes and Eric’s wife LaDonna Gales and the energetic, deeply talented bassist Cody Wright.
The set was a skillful display of tracks from the past, his current superb album Middle Of The Road and covers given the Gale treatment blowing a breath of fresh air though every arrangement he delivered. With Change In Me – which Eric announced as track 2 introducing us to the album; this is more than a melody and lyrics, the number celebrates the rebirth of Eric Gales. His emergence from a dark place of addiction; now his focus is his guitar and the music he creates bringing smiles and joy to the audience tonight. Boogie Man, the Freddie King classic was then given it’s Robin 2 debut; this is music that is hot, and full of electric energy taking us on a journey that fills our ears and gladden the heart. The musicianship was stupendous as the guitar wept and joined the emotional outpouring of high-octane delights. We heard Buddy Guy, and got to know the man behind the six-strings. At one point Eric left the stage allowing Cody and Nick to have centre stage. The magic fingers of Cody made the bass buzz with tonal textures it was a music driven sculpturing of notes. Then it was the turn of Eric for a solo built around Blue Oyster Cult’s, Don’t Fear The Reaper, this was an impactive solo, with the prism of notes creating a rainbow of tones and sounds; spellbinding. The delivery of Swamp another instrumental and eleventh track from the album Middle of the Road; was a whirling dervish of tambourine from LaDonna and the music flowed in a heady free-form blues extravaganza. Wow! Finishing off with Catfish Blues and then the encore this was a night of musicianship, innovative blues. There is definitely nothing Middle of The Road or standard about any of the music played by Eric and the band tonight. This is excitement, hope and joy distilled into a night that was hot and will be a highlight of 2017 that is for sure.
If you missed out on seeing Eric Gales this time; he is planning to be back possibly as early as October this year. In th emeantime his latest album Middle Of The Road out on Mascot Label Group available HERE