Walter Trout

Review: Walter Trout – Exeter Phoenix

In between the rock and metal bands I usually cover, I received an email asking whether I would like to review a local show featuring blues supremo Walter Trout. Up until this point my active interest in blues music extended as far as Kris Barras so I had no real idea what to expect, especially as the tour was to bring a series of old and forgotten blues songs to a bigger audience.

Dan Patlansky, Walter TroutThe appetiser for the evening at a packed Phoenix theatre was Dan Patlansky. Scarily talented for someone so young, the South African didn’t so much tickle the taste buds in anticipation of the main course, he set them on fire. With looks that match his talent and playing a battered and marked Strat, his virtuoso skills had the audience in the palm of his hand from the first note. Softly spoken but with a wonderfully powerful voice he took the crowd through a set where many of the songs started off with soft, lyrical verses but ended with soaring solos and fingers simply a blur. It was a devastatingly powerful set and the temperature in the venue rose with each successive song. Watching him play the last song, holding onto the guitar by the strings rather than strumming or picking them will remain in my memory for quite some time!

So on to Walter Trout. Possibly one of the most engaging men I have ever seen on a stage, his set was a mixture of glorious musicianship and self effacing anecdotes. The stories ranged from a long conversation about his transplant, during which you could almost see people making a mental promise to finally sign a donor card, to a story about one of the many old and forgotten blues songs he brings to the stage, where he describes the original song writer as being “100 years old and finally making money for his song writing”. The room is silent when he speaks and transported into utter joy when he plays.

Walter TroutThe band that free him to show off his incredible talent have the ability to perform to the highest standard, whilst never distracting from the main man. Michael Leasure on drums clearly loving every second. Johnny Gilparic on bass looking as if he could be nothing else in life but a musician, and keyboard wizard Teddy Andreadis looking dapper as he sends waves of Hammond organ around the venue in a swirling mist of sound.

Every song is a highlight. It is a set that transports you to another world where the blues was real and current, yet never sounds dated. His talent is prodigious. Solos take no effort but leave you breathless and his mastery of light and shade when he plays are simply jaw dropping. Then, as if the evening wasn’t enough, he invited local hero Kris Barras on stage to jam with him on “Gonna Hurt Like Hell” and the crowd were in heaven as the two traded insane licks of power and ferocity whilst grinning like Cheshire cats.

The smiles on the faces of the crowd as they file out into the Exeter night tell the story, a wonderful evening of sublime skill from two true masters of a genre that is once again growing in popularity.

Review and pics – Rob Wilkins

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