Kenny’s CD’s have enjoyed a place on my shelves since I bought his album “Live On” back in 1999 but I haven’t managed to catch him live before and I don’t think I quite realised how big he is now. The O2 ABC is one of Glasgow’s larger venues but I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that he can fill such a place. Even at the relatively young age of thirty seven Kenny is a five-time Grammy-nominated artist with a string of multi-platinum albums to his name.
Although the hall wasn’t full when I arrived quite a few had turned up to see the support act. Ben Poole wasn’t a name I was previously familiar with but his latest album “Live at the Albert Hall” went to No.4 in the official Amazon UK blues chart, and he’s had some well respected guitarists such as Gary Moore, Jeff Beck, Guthrie Govan, Richie Kotzen, and Bernie Torme sing his praises so I was interested in seeing him tonight.
After a short intro jam the band launch into the funky sounding “Let’s Go Upstairs”, the title track from his 2013 album. It’s a nice song and has quite a few people nodding their heads along; it also manages to get the lady in front of me dancing away. Ben swaps between a Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul throughout his set, both sound great, and is using Hamstead amps, which is a company I wasn’t aware of but they’re based down in South Cambridgeshire in England. Very nice tone when he’s playing. A lot of players will either play with a plectrum, or perhaps plectrum and fingers, or just their fingers but Ben is a very versatile player and utilises all these techniques and to great effect.
The highlight of his set for me was the song that he dedicated to Gary Moore “Time Might Never Come”. While it’s a good track in itself it’s really the long solo section where Ben really shines for me. His solo starts with a very tasteful, and almost understated, feel and builds in intensity to be his most ‘rock’ solo of the night.
If you’re going along to see Kenny on this tour make sure you turn up early and catch Ben’s set. I’m not in any doubt that he’s definitely someone that we’ll hear more of in the future. His brand of laid back blues went down well with the crowd here in Glasgow.
While waiting for the main event tonight I gaze across the stage at the rack of iconic guitars that every Kenny Wayne Shepherd fan knows and loves, all Stratocasters of course: the white strat with the black cross, his black strat with the racing stripes, and of course his sunburst models. It feels like he’s almost teasing the audience having them there and the sense of anticipation is palpable as the lights dim.
“Ladies and gentleman please put your hands together for Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band”. At last the wait is over and a huge cheer goes up from the audience as the band kick off with “Never Lookin’ Back”.
Kenny is of course on form tonight but I was also really impressed with front man Noah Hunt. His voice is superb this evening and is as good as anything he’s done in the studio. He is perpetual motion personified and even when he’s not singing he’s grabbing tambourines, moving to the beat, and generally looks like he’s having a great time as he smiles at the audience.
The line-up of musicians that Kenny has with him sound fantastic. An incredibly talented band and it was great to hear keyboard player Riley Osbourne do some solo spots within the songs. His playing always raised a cheer from the audience, and while he mainly had his blues man face on throughout the gig, he did crack a smile at the crowds reaction.
The band run through a selection of songs from Kenny’s sizeable back catalogue but it’s the BB King medley that was probably my favourite part of the evening. The extended solo on “You’ve Done Lost You’re Good Thing” is incredible and Kenny really goes for it: stamping his feet in time with the solo, and throwing his picking hand in the air. This is what we’d all been waiting for and his playing was absolutely blistering. Quite literally blistering as Kenny posted some pictures of his hands soaking in ice and water after the gig.
After the encore we’re treated to “Blue on Black”; a classic track which I imagine must be a staple of his live shows. The night ended with a stunning rendition of the Hendrix classic “Voodoo Child”.
It was great to finally see Kenny after all these years. To my ears some of the tracks sounded slower tonight than they do on the albums and I’d like to have heard them a bit faster but this is a minor gripe and I’m sure the more laid back feel appealed to many in the crowd.
Ben Poole will continue with many UK dates until the end of May.
- Never Lookin’ Back
- Everything is Broken
- The House is Rockin’
- King’s Highway
- True Lies
- Search and Destroy
- Heat of the Sun
- Talk To Me Baby
- Deja Voodoo
- Born With A Broken Heart
- BB Medley
- Dark Side of Love
- Blue on Black
- I’m a King Bee
- Oh well
- Voodoo Child