Concert Review in Wasser-Prawda (Germany)

Tuesday, 14 April, 2015

Slide Guitars and a Shot of Whiskey

Wasser-Prawda (Follow this link for the original German text.)

By Torsten Rolfs


With some anticipation I went on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, down to my ever-popular blues club. Meisenfrei is presenting international acts more and more frequently In the middle of the week, including Delta Moon. According to the band’s website, the first date of the German tour was in Bremen. The witty announcements in the program promised “a stunning combination of Southern Rock, Mississippi Blues, American Roots … double slide guitar and a decent shot of whiskey” — with a nod to a known whiskey brand. So I wanted to convince myself that “smooth Mississippi Blues on the sandy Hillbilly impact of Appalachia” would apply — as I said, the Meisenfrei announcements are sometimes whimsically worth reading.

The greatest joy and surprise for me was the well-packed room, 102 visitors in the middle of the week, which was very good for the band. The set began with a song from their new album “Low Down” (Wasser-Prawda reported). In “Afterglow” the sound of the band featured stomping drums — but at the same time laid back — a simple bass line and also Tom Gray with his raspy voice, and the two guitars — slide at its best. The evening was consistently marked by the rhythm of the open-tuned guitars and the typical slide-jammer sounds in the solos. The third song started with a nice gimmick, which was not only a decorative accessory for the announcement: A phone rang, Tom Gray reached behind him, took an old bakelite telephone handset in hand, apologized for not being able to speak … “Open All Night” started — here now the nice effect — he used the phone receiver as a harp mic to play the theme of the song in unison with Mark Johnson. Also in this song Gray and Johnson played the slide guitar solo in call-and-response fashion. “It’s okay, it’s all right … open all night” then the bassist Franher Joseph rose in chorus with his incredibly sonorous bass voice. “Mean Streak” — it was dark. The really seemingly similar boogie theme of “Hellbound Train” from their 2013 live album began like so many of the pieces in the concert with a drum Intro (here by Vic Stafford), and then the slide guitar. The charm of the piece is that in the verse only the drums support the vocals, with the guitar riff in a distinctive answer. This creates a tremendous tension, which is enhanced by the chorus. Not without reason did we read on the website jambands.com: “The air is sweet and swampy and full of hoodoo and fine, fine grease …” This was followed by “Black Cat Oil” with its distinctive bass line at the start, and then as a reminder of the musical roots of their music Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move”. What I really liked was that it does not degenerate into a pub sing-along number. The following “I’m a Witness” had in the chorus, “Yes, I am,” also well done. The first set went almost an hour with the title song of the new album “Low Down” at the end. This is a classic by Tom Waits. The interpretation of Tom Gray and his fellow musicians I personally like more, particularly because here came the wonderful voice of the bassist in the background.

In the second set followed inevitably for a band of this genre of songs the Bo Diddley classic “Who Do You Love”. For the regular shot of whiskey came “Clear Blue Flame”, from the eponymous album in 2007. A nice story introduced the song “Ghost in My Guitar”. Then also the classic Slim Harpo “Shake Your Hips”, with a beautiful ten-minute slide guitar battle show that the two guitarists fought out before the stage in the audience. With two encores, the evening went by after two hours of pure music enjoyment.

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