Underrated, but fiery blues guitarist...
'Energised' is an apt title as Bernard has changed his band around and hit the road with the best ever line-up of his career. In keyboard player Mike Vlahakis, powerhouse drummer Andrew Thomas and mesmerising bass man Jassen Wilber, Bernard has surrounded himself with an intuitive band who gives him the rock solid support he needs to flourish.
It is arguable that this set which makes up the CD companion on Ruf Records, is Bernard's best so far.
The DVD is a superbly shot, multi camera production which manages to capture the band's musical dynamic amid a flurry of annoying flickering stage lights.
The strength of the DVD - production values aside - lies in the way the crew capture the musical magic at work. Frankly for all his flamboyant guitar, outrageous hat and sparkling shirt, Bernard is painfully shy, and the lack of links between some excellent songs sometimes dampens the crowd's obvious enthusiasm to roar him on.
That said, there is some superb band playing here in a wide ranging set full of shuffles, blues, and wah wah and slide guitar breaks in between the occasional sing-along chorus.
Top of the heap is Bernard's own 'The Way Love Was Meant to Be', and of course his dad Luther Allison's 'Bad Love'. Lesser numbers like 'A Woman Named Trouble' are rescued by some delightful searing, linear guitar lines and throughout an excellent set the band lends inspirational support.
'Energised' is a fine DVD and a worthy artefact of a superb tour band, fronted by an underrated talent in his own right. On the closing 'I Just Came back To Say Goodbye', you can feel the bond between performer and audience, a triumph of a feel player over his own reserved personality.
Review by Pete Feenstra