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VAUGHAN Shepherds Bush Empire, London
3 June 2010
With living blues legend Jimmy Vaughan at the Shepherds Bush Empire
armed with his first album for 9 years, this was surely a marriage made
quite. For while this show did eventually spark enough to offer glimpses
of the connection between the past and present, Jimmy's audience
initially seemed be too much in awe of the history and not fired up
enough by the present.
Certainly tonight's guest Ian Parker in duo format must have felt the
quiet audience response to several of his heartfelt songs, which
including a brand new corker called 'Lost'. He finished with a flourish
on electric guitar but to muted applause. He deserved better.
Jimmy and his full tour band seemed equally in the moment, methodically
building up their set dynamic with occasional moments of inspirational
playing triumphing over the reverential atmosphere.
you need to buy in to the sense of romance and imagination of an era
whose pop songs are today's blues roots. And to that end Jimmy filled
the breach as a catalyst. Immediately after a stirring 'We're Gonna
Roll', Jimmy half turned to his crowd and apprehensively shouted 'you're
so quiet its freaking me out'.
But in truth Jimmy has never been the master of the grand gesture
especially when he lets his guitar doing the talking for him. He is far
happier as tonight on semi extended knee in quasi crouch position firing
off some incisive clean notes, confident in the knowledge that his
redoubtable drummer George Raines and an equally formidable born section
will be pushing the groove and plugging the gaps respectively.
admirably anchored some choogling rhythms and helped Jimmy reactivate
some great blues, ballads and rock & roll music from the fifties.
And yes damn
it all, he is a living link between the past and present, but tonight
you just wish his audience would wake up to the present.
matter, because Jimmy doesn't just look cool - top to toe in black a la
Johnny Cash - but leads by example, playing both crucial rhythm and
biting lead on Boom-Bapa-Boom'.
And as if
symbolic of the moment when the evening turned for the better, he
temporarily threw away the set list to respond to an audience request
for Johnny Guitar Watson's 'Motorhead Baby'.
Jimmy showed real use of tone, economy of effort and dexterity on the
impressive 'The Pleasure's All Mind' and the more obvious 'Just A Little
Bit'. We were in the presence of an eloquent player who never wasted a
note when a short incisive burst of staccato notes could communicate so
'And now star time', announced Jimmy perfunctorily and out stepped
vocalist Lou Ann Barton and she didn't disappoint. Much like Jimmy she
let her talent do the talking.
but static upright posture was in stark contrast to Jimmy's crabby stage
movements, but once she soared on the big ballad 'Wheel of Fortune', and
leaned into a swinging version of Lazy Lester's 'Sugar Coated Love'
before a perfect duet with Jimmy on 'Come Love', she had little left to
The initial soporific atmosphere had imperceptible slipped away and the
crowd became almost animated on the inevitable cover of SRV's 'Texas
startled look at the end of a regular set, when he realised his band had
left the stage without him, was out of keeping with an evening that
pleasantly reaffirmed the merits of a living legend, albeit in an
elegant understated way
by Pete Feenstra
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