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Bebop Spoken There

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Postage

13,218 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 637 of them this year alone and, so far, 45 this month (May 11).

Coming soon ...



May 20: Vieux Carré Jazzmen at The Holystone (Indoors!)
May 20 Maine Street Jazzmen are back at Sunniside Social Club. 8:30pm start.
May 23: Vieux Carré Hot Four are back at The Spanish City.

June 21: Jazz in the Afternoon are back at Cullercoats Crescent Club. (Revised date).
June 23: Vieux Carré Jazzmen are back at Cullercoats Crescent Club. (Revised date).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Robert Cray Band @ Sage Gateshead. October 13

Robert Cray (guitar & vocals), Dover Weinberg (keyboards & organ), Richard Cousins (bass) & Les Falconer (drums)
(Review by Russell)
The lights went down, way down. The Robert Cray Band walked on in darkness, plugged in, began to play, then, and only then, did the stage lights illuminate America’s #1 blues-soul star. The ageless Robert Cray, in his mid-sixties with the looks of a thirty-something, never gives less than one hundred percent, yet this Sage Gateshead show was different. It wasn’t immediately apparent but there was an extra something about it.
Great voice, great guitarist, Cray was in fine fettle. Counting the band in with: Like This! the tunes came thick and fast, the band on the money. She’s Gone (False Accusations LP, 1985), Chicken in the Kitchen and countless others featured Cray’s searing vocals with more than a few falsetto lines to give it that extra something. Chicken spotlighted the talents of Dover Weinberg. A ‘been there, done that’ veteran, ‘White Cliffs’ to his friends, played a significant part, he was an ‘extra something’ component of the show. Keys and organ, the smiling Weinberg clearly relished working with Cray. Playing a vintage piece of furniture (organ) Weinberg looked across to bass man Richard Cousins; a nod and a smile said it all…they were smokin’!
The man at the back on a podium, drummer Les Falconer’s CV reads like a who’s who of the music scene. Physical, powerful, laser-like accuracy, Falconer drove the band on, one way – onwards, no time to rest, he wasn’t on vacation, he was going about his business. A tighter band you couldn’t find. Tight as. Robert Cray is famed for his vocals yet his guitar playing is sublime. This Sage One performance heard him play more freely than of late. The expressive phrasing was there as always, yet that extra something was in his playing. Cray’s right hand man Richard Cousins, the lynchpin, held it all together. Cray without Cousins is difficult to contemplate, the pair having first met in 1969.
Right Next Door from Strong Persuader (1986) delighted the audience. Cray has a forty years’ back catalogue to raid night after night. Touring is what Cray does. Gigs in Britain then over to Europe, then home to the US to tour some more. The man joked with an adoring Gateshead audience that he and the band had been holed-up back stage since last time waiting for them to come to hear the band again! Robert Cray is a storyteller; of love lost, regret, pain, the wronged man. Great Big Old House, then to close, You Move Me. A wave to the crowd, a moment off stage, then to return to play some more.
Phone Booth. A crowd pleaser; Cray was in a Gateshead Phone Booth! So said the man. The soulful Mr Cray went out on a Booker T tip with Hip Tight Onions, co-written with Cousins. Hearing Robert Cray in concert should be on everyone’s list of ‘1000 things to do before I die’. He’s come a long way from playing the basement venue at Newcastle University Students’ Union (November 6, 1986). These days Sage Gateshead is the place to hear him. Be there next time.

Earlier Shawn Jones (guitar & vocals) played a support set. Jones, Oklahoma City born, California resident, has been on the road for more than twenty five years. Having shared a stage with many famous names – Robben Ford, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt to name but three – Jones’ big break came when Waylon Jennings offered him a management deal and the job of playing guitar in his band.
At Sage Gateshead Jones played a solo set. How ya doin’? he asked. A frequent visitor to these shores, he said Sage Gateshead was the best venue he had come across in his time. Quite a compliment. He said he’d enjoyed a visit to ‘the castle’, a ‘must see’. He can be forgiven for mistaking Newcastle for Gateshead! Jones arrived in Britain with two guitars and by the time he reached Tyneside he’d acquired a third. By chance, a shop in Truro, Cornwall, had just the guitar he was looking for (Jones uses more than one during his stage performance). The find was all the more remarkable given that he is a left hander and he paid a bargain £150 for it!    
Jones’ rhythm guitar accompaniment to his singing owed something to Elmore James and his rhythm and blues contemporary, George Thorogood. Raw, with an edge, his powerful vocals saw him step back from the mic from time to time. He began with Temptation and in the short time allotted to him he managed to fit in half a dozen tunes including Runnin’ Out of Time to Run and, said Jones, to be on his next recording, a slide feature – Bottom of the Bottle. Using several tunings (he selected guitars from a rack of three at his side), a performance of real conviction convinced the audience and he met an enthusiastic post-gig queue of converts eager to buy, and have signed, copies of his CD back catalogue.  
Russell.

2 comments :

Patti D. said...

It was an ace gig - great, soulful, funkin' blues by our favourite - gorgeous singing and a fabulous tight, rocking band. The bass man, Cousins, delighted yours truly with his solid rhythms .... and groovy dance moves!

Patti D. said...

And the audience loved the way Mr Cray dealt with that one guy who was attempting to clap along to the beat! The embarrassing sound of one man clapping - out of time ..........

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