Walter Trout - LIVE: Islington Academy, London 2011

Giants of Blues Rock Tour
November 24 (21:10-22:50)
Capacity 800

A Walter Trout tour is reasonably common in the UK, which is rare for an American bluesman, but a Popa Chubby tour is less so. As such the Giants of Blues Rock is the kind of tour the UK doesn't see often enough. Two stylistically-related artists touring together in a kind of double-header package to enthusiastic crowds.

Although billed as a co-op tour, it was to all intents and purposes a Walter Trout headline tour with Popa Chubby as the special guest, afforded a substantial length set each night, with Trout closing all the shows on the run, and playing for longer each time.

On this night Popa had a full 75 minutes (the length of headline sets for some of the lazier artists out there) and played predominantly his own songs, with his well known instrumental jams on Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Hendrix's Little Wing thrown in, and a full cover of Hey Joe. New record Back In New York City provided just three tracks (including hard-hitting groover Pound of Flesh) between a handful of cuts from his previous albums, and from his seated position Popa put plenty of feeling into his playing, peeling off solos with ease.

In many respects Trout is a classic touring bluesman. He plays more covers than he does originals, even though he has an extensive catalogue of his own songs, most of the covers are standards that anyone who frequents blues gigs has heard a hundred times, and he only manages 10 songs in 100 minutes. It's a format which has kept the likes of Buddy Guy on the road for 50 years, and it seems to work for him too, because of one simple fact: the people who go to see him are predominantly the kinds of blues fans who are less interested in songs in the conventional sense and more taken by extended, rocking blues solos. Which is actually the main focus of Trout's sets. He spends far more time playings solos than he does singing songs, and it's those periods the fans love most.

So rolling out predictable standards like Dust My Broom, Catfish Blues and Goin' Down, even with the latter highlighted by stellar vocalist and Trout's tour manager Andrew Elt, didn't harm the atmosphere like it might have done a lesser performer, because the songs weren't really the point. And few people solo for extended periods of time better than Walter Trout. He delivers a rocking set regardless of which tracks actually make it up, which is just what his fans want, and he delivered again.

“ extended, rocking blues solos ”

Popa Chubby setlist: She Loves Everybody But Me / ? / Pound of Flesh / Somewhere Over The Rainbow (instrumental) / Grown Man Crying Blues / It's Not About Us / A Love That Will Not Die / Same Old Blues / Hey Joe / Little Wing (Instrumental) / Jam

Walter Trout setlist: Dust My Broom / Life In The Jungle / ? / Gone Too Long / Helpin' Hand / Say Goodbye To The Blues / Mercy (with Andrew Elt) / Goin' Back Home (with Popa Chubby) / Catfish Blues > Drum Solo > Catfish Blues // Goin' Down (with Andrew Elt)

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2011, Blues, Gigs, ,

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