Looking at Laurence tonight I was reminded of when I saw him in the early years, immediately obvious here was a major talent, a superb guitarist that could sing a bit but then he was only a teenager. Looking on as I did, in awe this evening I like everyone else can see that Laurence is now the complete package, the guitar skills are exceptional, the vocal now has a deep authoritative rasp, and the song writing has also matured greatly. Then the confidence, that has just erupted and Laurence oozes it strutting the stage throwing the rock star shapes and controlling a crowd with warmth and humility. No doubt the confidence has been influenced by having a band of the highest quality in the ace on bass Roger Inniss and Miri Mietinen on drums, again watching tonight it is so obvious they are one tight unit and have a telepathic understanding.
The final standout feature that I always spot is that these guys clearly just love playing together; I do not know another band that smiles as much as these three. The set opened with three coursing cuts from the latest album and showcased everything that is so good about the trio, Roger and Miri nailing the grooves firmly on the floor allowing Laurence to peel off a series of hard licks and riffs interspersed with soaring solos. Then a little Blues history tour, first up a coruscating amped up version of Leadbelly’s Good Morning Blues, deep grooves with a vocal to match and a series of rabid riffs from Laurence. Straight in to a seriously funky cover of BB King’s The Thrill is Gone, serious bass slaps from Inniss, pumping drum fills from Miri and clipped chops from the main man.
And so to All Along The Watchtower, a song that Laurence has surely made his own, the audience rapt by the histrionics he produced on a combination of his road worn Strat, Whammy Bar and Wah Wah Pedal working in tandem to produce a tumult of sounds then the whole thing was spliced open with a pair of vicious solos. Evil from the new album opens in exactly that vein, more pumping grooves out of the engine room dropped under Laurence’s power driven licks and his rasping threatening vocal. This one built steadily until Laurence went front and centre stage to deconstruct the tune lowering the volume button by stealth to no:2, almost inaudible but from my vantage point his hands worked dextrously and at great pace and after it fell away to almost nothing brought back up to full power to close out.
Fall From The Sky is a perennial live favourite and once more tonight it led to some serious call and refrain choruses from the band and crowd working in tandem and all the while the rhythm and riffs plugged away. A huge ovation greeted the band and the noise levels soared higher until they returned for an immensely powerful encore that began with Laurence’s personal tribute to his late Uncle on the quite beautiful and moving Whisper In The Wind, the feeling evident in the vocal and the plaintive chord run. The song was lifted to magnificent heights by Inniss’s extraordinary bass solo, now this really does defy description, all I can say is that if Laurence is ever unwell Roger could step up and play lead because it has the sound and complexity of a lead solo. Hushed respectful silence prevailed before the show closed out with a helter skelter tear through Gallagher’s Bull Frog Blues, violent riffs, piston pump grooves and more raucous audience participation. Review by Nigel Foster
Boring bit… ©All images copyright me. All rights reserved. Use without permission will result in me being a bit miffed. If you do use a photo it would be really nice to get a Rockrpix credit somewhere if you can… you're probably musicians, you understand all this stuff.