So a short train journey to Glasgow today to catch the Queen of slide guitar Erja Lyytinen at Nice N Sleazy, a new venue for me, in Sauchiehall Street. The tour is promoting her new album Another World out shortly, but first up we have the Brian Rawson Band with guest vocalist Greig Taylor.
The band kick off with a killer “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” and just wow. Between Brian’s killer playing and Greig’s old school voice it makes for a stunning start to the show and the crowd all seem to think so too. We get a number of tracks tonight which are just quality, like the soulful “Hard To Believe” and the great “Dead Man Walking” with some excellent guitar work and a great chorus.
We have a couple novel covers tonight with the likes of the late great Jeff Healey’s “Confidence Man”, which was just fantastic, and a brilliant version of Buddy Miller’s “Shelter Me” with Greig nailing it big time. The band power through “Double Heart Trouble”, “Upside Down”, those and the likes of “Sitting on Top of the World” make for an opening band I would happily have gone home after – they were that good. If you like your blues proper old school then look no further than Brian Rawson. What a start to tonight’s proceedings.
The main event now as Erja Lyytinen casually takes to the stage and launches into the first of several tracks from the fantastic 2017 album Stolen Hearts, starting with “Lover’s Novels” with its laidback guitar and drums opening before Erja’s soulful voice carries us along. It’s a fabulous song with its chorus section along with Erja’s amazing guitar work.
We have a laugh about Erja’s missing capo for her guitar which means changing songs about until one eventually turns up. There are a number of new tracks played tonight from the forthcoming new album, Another World, including the title track with a more mellow mainstream feel, allowing Erja’s voice to pull us along aided by Kuoppala on keyboards/Hammond, Tatu on bass and Iiro on drums. All of them ably match the singing. Erja’s solo is simply breathtaking mid-song.
The new album will have no issues based on the strength of the tracks on display tonight, such as “Hard as Stone”, “Snake in the Grass” and the excellent “Cherry Overdrive”. The band are in fine form and it’s nice to hear a Hammond organ on stage ably played by Kuoppala, and obviously the guitar work tonight is just stunning with the ever-smiling Erja playing with no effort as she intermixes with the audience all night.
The epic “Slowly Burning” from Stolen Hearts is always a joy to listen to with heartache dripping from Erja’s voice and guitar; a major goosebumps track. We are treated to “Erja’s Delta Mix”, a heavy nod to those old time blues players like Robert Johnson, a fabulous piece of playing. An all-too short a set ends with a jazzed up “Rocking Chair”, a fantastic climax to the set as the band go off stage, only to come back for one encore and what a track – a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” and boy did she do it justice.
The band tonight were just so tight and Erja… where to start? She smiled all night, chatted to us all night and played out of her skin. The slide guitar is to die for along with solos that are played with purpose instead of just being there to show off. When you’re as good and natural as Erja, showing off is just not required. It’s been close to four years since I last saw her at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh and she has just grown so much in her playing. If you can, go see a true blues queen in action and you will come away with a big smile on your face and with a renewed faith that the blues is in very safe hands. A fantastic night with two tremendous blues bands.
- Lover’s Novels
- Black Ocean
- Hard As Stone
- Slowly Burning
- Cherry Overdrive
- Everything’s Fine
- Another World
- Snake in the Grass
- Erja’s Delta Mix
- Rocking Chair
- Crosstown Traffic
Photos by Gary Cooper