Live Review: Ben Poole/Stevie Nimmo – Oran Mor, Glasgow

The blues train pulls into Glasgow and stops at one of our outstanding venues in Oran Mor, an old church, but there are no prayers needed for either Ben Poole or Stevie Nimmo tonight. They blew us away.

I first caught Ben Poole live last year in support to Kenny Wayne Shepherd. How can I put this? He kind of knocked me speechless. I had not heard of him prior to that, but after putting in one hell of a show, I soon rectified that position. The pretty boy (you have Stevie to thank for that one) came here tonight meaning business.

First on the stage tonight is bassist Matt Beable, which is a bit strange, as he has to do two shifts tonight. Matt plays bass for both bands, and this link is obviously why there seems to be a great bond between them, which can be seen in the encore at the end of Stevie’s set.

The first words out of Ben’s mouth tonight are, “I am English, don’t hate me”… I think Stevie has been winding him up. What happened after this was pure, unadulterated blues genius. The man is much more of what I would call classic blues. It is mostly slow and simmering, and everything is steeped in incredible guitar work. It was tonight when I realised why blues gigs are more sedate than my usual rock/metal shows. It is not that the crowd are not engaged or excited, I honestly believe they take it all in so much more. There are the very annoying mobile phones in the air, but it is far fewer than normal… people just want to enjoy the skills on show. We got a fair few numbers from Ben’s latest stunning release “Time To Come”. It was great to see these played live. This youngster is one to watch, his name will be known far and wide in the future… I guarantee it. If there was one downside to this, it can only be where was the vest? I know it is Scotland, but it was above freezing Ben!

As I waited patiently for Stevie Nimmo to take to the stage, I took in my surroundings, and realised this venue is an old friend to both me and the big man. This was where I first saw the man play, many moons ago. That night, it was with his little brother in The Nimmo Brothers, and from that night, I have not missed a show of either Stevie’s or Alan’s in Scotland’s largest city. I have witnessed them in many a venue, but for some reason, this one feels like home for them. The sound is always spot on, it is very atmospheric, yet intimate… and the beer isn’t too expensive.

I was dragged along that night long ago by a mutual friend, and my love of the blues was rekindled all over again. Funnily enough, my first encounter with blues was one I was also dragged along too… you might have heard of the guy… Rory Gallagher… and much like my first time with Stevie, I am sure I stood there with my mouth agape for most of the night.

Stevie Nimmo definitely comes in the ‘Rory’ mold, especially nowadays, with the release of his recent album ” Sky Won’t Fall”. He is spreading his wings with this release, and he covers a lot of bases with ease. Not surprisingly, tonight’s set wass made up mainly from the new album, and after playing it solidly for months, I was delighted.

Stevie takes the stage at a slow stroll, with a massive smile on his face. You can tell what it means to him to play to his home crowd. He kicks off with “Roll The Dice”, and I suspect this is to ease the old school fans into the new songs, it is more akin to his back catalogue. Straight off the bat, Stevie thanks Ben Poole for his set, and upon the crowd’s expected clapping and cheering, he puts forth it is only as he is a pretty boy, followed up with “He Is handsome Isn’t He”

“Still Hungry” is next, another new song that is a scorcher, and could be an anthem to any young band out there. A story of no money but plenty of passion, and to all those bands who keep going through all adversities, I doff my cap (and point my finger to you, the readers, saying please support as much live music as your wallet can afford and your partner will allow… in fact, never mind that last one).

As we flew through the set, you just had to stand in awe of this man’s talent. His voice was note perfect, and his guitar work, breathtaking. The personal highlight for me was ” Gamblers Roll” from the new album (so go buy it… I would have paid the price just for this alone). It is a cover of The Allman Brothers, to which Stevie openly admits he loves, but this song could have been written for him. Not sure if I should say this, but there is a YouTube video out there of the performance of this song tonight, and it sounds just as good as I remember it.

Now Stevie Nimmo would not be Stevie Nimmo without bigging up his little brother, and he stepped up to do a personal PR job, and made sure everyone knew King King are playing Glasgow in a week’s time… and who do I see clapping to this news? none other than Mrs Nimmo, Stevie’s Mum, who is just in front of me and has been boogieing away all night. This Dumbarton lass, and her two boys, have done real good.

As the main set came to an end, I knew what was coming next (social media does spoil some things), and we see both bands tread the boards once again. Now I have seen some bands do this before over the years, and although some performances have been good, on the whole, they do look staged and a bit plastic, but not tonight. This has been a pretty long tour, and I reckon these guys have loved living in each others pockets. How many other bands would happily let a guitarist as good as Ben play the lead and solo on some of their own stuff? This encore was seriously impressive. Every band member was in their element and it had a real old school, blues/jazz jam feel. It was a real treat, and something I will never forget.

There is only one more thing to say… Alan Nimmo, the gauntlet is down, you’d best bring your A game to the ABC (be sure to stay tuned to the site for that review).

Stevie Nimmo Set List

Roll The Dice Again Still Hungry Running On Back To You Change Gamblers Roll Good Day For The Blues The Storm Loving Might Do Us Good   Images/Review Ritchie Birnie

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