Monday, 7 November 2011

John Mayall in Concert plus special guest Oli Brown Band - The Sage, Gateshead

Signed by the man himself.

Oli Brown Band
Here was a young band, but very much steeped in the history of UK blues:  a cross between Taste, Ten Years After and The Groundhogs. Oh, and with a bit of Mountain and Cream here and there. Excellent guitar playing from Mr Brown. A blues reworking of Blackstreet’s hip-hop No Diggity was a surprise. Their song Mister Wilson featured a (maybe unintentional) quote from George Harrison’s I Dig Love. An enjoyable opening set which finished with I Feel On Top Of The World.

John Mayall
Looking sprightly for a guy who celebrated his 70th birthday in 2003, John Mayall commenced his set with a solo performance of the Sonny Boy Williamson influenced Another Man. He then introduced the band: Greg Rzab – bass; Jay Davenport – drums and Rocky Athas – guitar.
They tore into All Your Love, one of several songs played on the night from 1966’s ‘Beano’ album and followed up with J B Lenoir’s Talk To Your Daughter which featured John on one of his custom guitars. The standards Have You Heard and Parchman Farm were joined by Albert King’s Oh Pretty Woman from 1967’s Crusade album, which featured some interesting musical duelling between organ and guitar.
Two new songs followed: the first featuring ‘scat’ singing and the last a lament to present woes called Tough Times Ahead. Then it was heads down for the finale Room To Move, an extended workout featuring a harmonica tour de force from John and lengthy bass and drum solos.

The nearly full Sage audience brought back the band for an encore and were treated to an excellent Hideaway featuring Oli Brown on 2nd guitar. It seemed to this reviewer that there was a little reticence on the part of Rocky Athas who watched Oli like a hawk throughout and tried unsuccessfully to outplay him. Such is the magic of live music.


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