Review: Kris Barras Band – Oran Mor, Glasgow

Fighting a rather nasty chest infection (one that caused an earlier gig in Southampton to be cancelled), Kris Barras arrived in a damp and dreary Glasgow for a packed gig at one of the many churches that has been turned into a venue. Ex-church means great acoustics, so when Kris needed a helping hand, the crowd were on hand to help out. But then again he has added backing vocalists Phoebe Jane and Alex Hart to the live line-up, so he was more than covered in the vocal department.

Elles Bailey, Kris Barras BandJoining the tour for a handful of dates is English singer/songwriter Elles Bailey, and by the time that she launched into opening number, ‘Wild Wild West’ (no, not that one), quite a crowd had gathered front and centre. Blending a refreshing mix of Americana, Country and Blues, Bailey is a warm and engaging performer, who at times sparks memories of both Bonnie Raitt and Elkie Brooks. Surrounded by a killer band (Joe Wilkins simply sizzles on guitar) she runs through a set that naturally leans towards current album – ‘Road I Call Home’. ‘Miss Me When I’m Gone’ is a classic Country tale, similar in melodies to Billie Jo Spears legendary ‘Blanket On The Ground’. ‘What’s The Matter With You?’ is a sultry few minutes in a Beth Hart vein, ‘Help Somebody’ and the title track are pure sass, and ‘Medicine Man’ sees Bailey taking aim at a previous manager and giving him both barrels. Each song as well crafted as the other, and each telling a tale which ensnares the audience.

Elles Bailey is on the road throughout November and December, before returning for a handful of headlining dates in March 2020. All dates can be found here.

Kris Barras BandThe lights dim and the familiar strains of ‘Thunderstruck’ come booming out of the PA, the Kris Barras Band file onto the small stage and take their positions, waiting on the green light from Barras himself. The green light comes in the shape of the fuzzy opening chords of ‘Ignite (Light It Up)’, Josiah J Manning sparks up his keyboards and the remainder of the band pile in. More of a traditional rock feel that the blues-rock tag normally associated with Kris Barras, it’s the perfect set opener, and comes with a blistering solo from Barras midsong. This leads into ‘Counterfeit People’, another track from latest album – ‘Light It Up’, a light and breezy Don Henley-esque little number that gets the toes tapping.

Kris Barras BandDespite not being at 100%, Kris Barras still puts in one hell of a shift and it’s obvious that having to cancel the Southampton gig was a decision not made lightly. The longer that the set went on, it seemed that the adrenaline kicked in, and spurred him on. Having such a strong band alongside him no doubt helped in getting him over the finishing line. During a sublime seven minute version of ‘Rain’, backing vocalists Phoebe Jane and Alex Hart are called forward and join Barras at the front of the stage for a brief few minutes acapella style. New drummer Billy Hammett also gets his moment to shine, with a short drum solo that leads into a jam, with him playing standing up as Barras breaks out the slide for ‘I’m Gone’. It’s these moments where Barras and his fellow performers stretch their wings and flesh the songs out that linger on. Elliott Blackler on bass puts in his usual muscular performance, and does what every good bassist should do, quietly put down the bedrock for the others to build on.

As the set nears its end, an emotional performance of ‘Watching Over Me’ has the hairs standing on end, ‘Hail Mary’ has the crowd breaking out in a mass sing-a-long, and ‘Lovers Or Losers’ and a blistering romp through Freddie King’s ‘Going Down’ brings the house down.

After a few more live dates, Kris Barras will be taking a well earned rest for a while. With the recognition that he has received with Kris Barras Band, as well as his work with Supersonic Blues Machine, no-one would begrudge him a few nights kip in his own bed for a change.

All remaining tour dates can be found here. 

Review – Dave S

Images – Dave Jamieson

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