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Bush Hall, Shepherds Bush 18.10.06
Reviewed by G.P. Bennett & Lewis Hodgkinson
Tonight for us represented the best and worst of our beloved blues. At
some points we were witness to moments of musical brilliance, invention
and simplistic creativity, at others we were plunged into an abyss of
First impressions of the venue? Slightly odd really, a strange divide
existed between a smoky rugby club style reception area with a bar that
only served bottles (never a good thing, especially at 3 quid a pop) and
the main room.
The main room still holds ambience from its early days as a ballroom,
with ornate decoration and impressive chandeliers. The problem, apart
from the rows of uncomfortable seating, was the sound. Very 'boomy' with
a resonating echo that never seemed to disappear.
Matt Schofield Trio
We walked in with The Matt Schofield Trio already in full flow, pumping
bass from the left hand of keyboardist Jonny Henderson and the jazz shuffling
of Evan Jenkins on Drums, backing Schofield's unspeakably good licks (that's
good licks not looks, at one point we wondered if Matt had come straight
from his day job at the mime theatre).
Have we heard it all before? Well yes, some of it, but when it's played
like this who cares. Schofield is unquestionably one of this country's
most inventive and talented Blues guitarists. His range is tremendous
and we were constantly surprised and moved by his creativity during solos.
The drummer is superb, but the one element of the band that really hits
the mark is Johnny Henderson. Maintaining a strong, distinctive bassline
throughout, Henderson still manages to run riot, producing a flurry of
special changes and run’s that leaves the audience knocked out.
All in all it's excellent stuff. Matt sticks primarily to tracks from
his latest album 'Siftin Thru Ashes' but does treat the audience to some
Albert Collins covers where he demonstrates just why everyone in the London
blues scene at the moment seems to rate him so highly.
Well worth a look if you get the opportunity.
Floral Cowboy Shirt, Jeans, and... a Baseball Cap! Not many people can
make that look work, but then again not many people could make a band
work that included a guitarist resembling the missing cousin of Tony Soprano,
complimented (cough) by the "legendary" Gary Moore...!!!
Otis began in fine form strumming his trance like rhythms on Banjo, shouting
/ singing about War (apparently one song was about how countries seem
to think they can just invade others and take what they want) and with
a song on his album called 'Government Lied', I get the feeling Otis is
slightly peeved at his country's leader (hardly original in today's climate
The first 3 or 4 songs worked really well, with the drummer following
Taylor's wiggles effortlessly with some good solid work from the missing
Soprano. The sound they created was impressive too, not one for bass players
ourselves, it was nice to see another band pulling it off with a creative
Admittedly there isn't much to the songs, one chord licks seem to be the
norm, lyrics are sparse and rare, but it’s more about the feel they
created, the smiles on Taylor's face told it all.
There was a nice original touch when on the 4th song the band were joined
by a harp player, and Taylor himself also switched to harp, "2 Harps??"
I hear you cry!! Yeah, and it worked, both finding spaces around the other
on a Bo Diddley style romp. The atmosphere picked up when Otis ventured
into the audience with his harp urging the healthy crowd to sing along,
something in which they duly obliged. It was safe to say that the evening's
entertainment was chugging along nicely.
Then it happened. After a short introduction and a long tuning up session,
ladies and gentlemen... Please welcome Mr. Gary Moore.
It quickly became apparent that the hypnotic, feel good subtlety we'd
all been enjoying was about to be hijacked by the new addition on stage.
Love it or hate it, this was going to be the Gary Moore show. A large
majority of the audience were clearly ready for the change and were looking
forward to getting their money's worth.
Memories of the songs that followed are vague. A lot of readers will hate
us for asking this, but what is the point of Gary Moore? We personally
felt we were being subjected to a slow and painful death by guitar solo.
Everyone knows that Moore can play, but does Otis Taylor's music suit
his unnecessary, over complicated and often cliched guitar style?
If nothing else the Otis Taylor band provided Moore with everything he
needed to plunge the gig into showmanship hell. He was offering the missing
Soprano trade-off's, nodding for him to attempt to match Moore at either
speed, volume or facial expression. Soprano didn't stand a chance. Try
as he might to get a note in edgeways Moore was a law unto himself. The
sound engineer lost all control over Moore’s volume and as a result
the audience was left in an enjoy it or leave scenario. A number did walk
out, but the majority faithful stayed and lapped up solo after solo, watching
a happy if somewhat bewildered Otis Taylor and band take the back seat.
Moore was in heaven. Teleport us away from the Bush Hall stage and into
the Birmingham NEC and we could have been at some dreadful Guitar Show
solo workshop with Moore blazing all over Clapton-esque backing track's,
basking in the gratitude from hundred's of bedroom soloists.
Being cynical old soles, we think part of the reason for tonight's display
was the result of a threat to topple Moore from the perch from the younger
more dynamic Matt Schofield. You can imagine Moore sitting backstage with
his hair in curler's listening to the young bluesman wow the audience,
whilst stamping his feet and shouting "I’ve still got it, I'll
show them, just let me on that stage, they’ll see".
Who knows? Whatever way you look at it, tonight’s show was certainly
value for money. The Matt Schofield Trio were worth the entrance fee alone
and if you were that way inclined you could revel in a Gary Moore masterclass
afterwards. If not you could sit back, safe in the knowledge that a scathing
attack in the form of an amateurish review was just around the corner!
Please Otis... No Moore!!