Gales and Bryant Guitars conquer 1865 Southampton

Gales and Bryant Guitars conquer 1865 Southampton Danny Bryant opened for Eric Gales showcasing his latest album Crown

It’s been a while since I went to a live gig, so, when asked to cover this, I jumped at the chance!

Gales and Bryant Guitars conquer 1865 Southampton

It’s been even longer since I saw our own Danny Bryant live, now as a power trio. Opening up to a full house with a cracking take on his own ‘Heartbreaker’, you just knew this was going to be a great night.

Photo Credit: © Zoran Veselinovic

Anyone who knows Danny will also know that he’s, shall we say, a little portly. As if to emphasise just how long he’s been away, he plugged his Fitness video, out on Betamax and cassette……yes, it’s been a whileRelying mainly on covers, a stunning version of ‘Little Wing’ was followed by ‘Bullfrog Blues’ and ‘Stop Breaking Down’. How he reminds me of his mentor, Walter Trout, right down to the grimaces when soloing. Closing with his own ‘For The Love Of Angels’, reiterated what we already know, Danny’s still got it.

photo credit Robert Sutton

A classical piece introduced our headliner, Eric Gales to the stage. There have been a couple of personnel change since he was last on these shores, Jonathan Lovett on keys and “Smoke Face ” on bass (more about him later !) The two constants being drummer Nick Hayes and she who must be obeyed LaDonna Gales on percussion and later, notably vocals.

An instrumental ‘Smokestack Lightnin’ got us underway, a cracking idea to get us in the mood for what was to come. It’s fair to say that the setlist stuck rigidly to the new Crown album, produced by and featuring Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, neither of whom, we were informed, were in the house ! Apparently, to Eric’s delight, it sits at No 1 on the Billboard Chart (whatever that means).

One of his many monologues preceded the next song, the self-explanatory ‘You Don’t Know The Blues’, I reckon that’s why we’re all there, Eric!  Something that comes through on many of the tracks on the new album is autobiographical material about his personal struggles as well as the nature of the world today. Songs like ‘Stand Up‘, and the afore-mentioned ‘You Don’t Know the Blues‘ represent him revealing different aspects of his life, along with his feelings about the world.

Photo Credit: © Robert Sutton

Stand Up’ featured solos from all the band, special mention going to Smoke Face for an amazing bass solo. I managed to catch him after the show, asking him how he got the name. He told me he went to a Halloween party wearing said mask. He was trying to pack up smoking at the time (it didn’t work !), and vaped with the mask on, smoke emanating from the mouth and eye holes, just like it does onstage now, to great amusement!

For the next song, LaDonna took centre stage. I’d never heard her sing before, but in the introduction, Eric remarked that she had done dozens of backing vocals for him, it was time to return the compliment. The song was a soulful ‘Take Me As I Am’, segueing into ‘Soul Sister’ both of which received rapturous applause. For me, however, the most poignant song of the night was ‘Too Close To the Fire’, about letting yourself get burned, or allowing yourself to be in a dangerous place (notably co-written by Keb Mo’, Tom Hambridge and James House.)

The title track from the album ‘I Want My Crown’ closed the show. Normally this would feature an imaginary boxing match (referred to rather as a conversation) between the two guitarists, Eric and Bonamassa, but obviously that ain’t happening on this tour. Step up young Jonathan Lovett on keyboards to take Joe’s place and a jolly fine job he did of it too. There was just time for a (sort of) rendition of ‘Voodoo Child’, before it was all over. Eric’s mind will shortly go to the upcoming BMA awards in Memphis, where he is amongst the nominees for best guitarist.

Gales and Bryant Guitars conquer 1865 Southampton

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