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WALTER TROUT/POPA CHUBBY
Academy, London 24 November 2011
and east coast pairing of Californian Walter Trout and New York heavy
weight Popa Chubby goes back to the mid 90's when the two appeared on
the Dutch 'Jimi Hendrix Music Festival' CD.
years on, the spirit of Hendrix remains very much part of Chubby's hard
hitting set and remains a significant influence on Walter Trout. That
said, the popularity of both guitarist resides in their own unique
approach to Blues rock, hence the tour banner 'Giants of Bluesrock'.
Given that both artists have headlined the tour in different countries,
presumably the idea is to break new audiences for both and given the
recent rapturously received sell out at the legendary Olympia in Paris,
and several big crowds in Germany things are going according to plan.
Back in the UK things were a bit slower but come show time the 02 was
well populated and the vociferous crowd was treated to three hours of
scintillating rocking blues.
part, Popa Chubby was like a cartoon come to life. Even when
perched on a tall bar stool he still seemed to dominate the stage as he
strained every fibre of his body from feigned head butts to sudden jerks
of his body to indicate a change of tempo. Indeed, to witness Popa
Chubby live is to experience the physical theatre of riff driven blues.
ranged from the Freddie King feel of 'She Loves Everbody But Me' and the
staccato guitar lines, crashing cymbals and slow burn of 'Pound of
Flesh' to one of his very best songs of the night, the heart felt ode to
his fans, 'Its About You'.
stretched out with some muscular guitar work on an expansive
instrumental and leant into the more restrained 'Grown Man Crying
Blues', which featured short burst of note clusters, contrasting melodic
lines and one of his most emotive vocals of the night.
And it is
Chubby's impassioned vocal style that makes him different from the rest,
as he shifted the emphasis of his phrasing from growling brooding intent
to soaring majestically, while dosing his crowd with some high register
notes bathed in echo reverb.
doesn't so much work up a sweat as bludgeon his crowd with powerhouse
rocking blues. And such was his impact that when he came to the Hendrix
section of the night, he'd had already done the hard work by whipping up
his crowd's excitement levels before providing 'Hey Joe' with fresh
spark while adding deft touches to 'Little Wing'.
And so to
Walter Trout who remains a class act. Much is made of his
relentless wall of sound, but as he showed tonight his music works on
different levels, ranging from intense rocking to balladic melodies and
blues injected emotion.
Chubby, there's an air of spontaneity about his show, with perhaps only
the long time intense guitar/Hammond driven set opener, 'Dust My Broom'
being in any way predictable, though it still set the bar high for the
rest of the set.
some twenty albums to choose from, Walter dipped into his early back
catalogue for intensely riffed 1990 'Life in the Jungle' and then took a
quantum leap forward of some 18 years to the sumptuous funky groove of
'Gone to Long'. The song was driven by Rick Knapp's lilting bass line
and Sammy Avila's voluminous Hammond while Walter added a majestic tone.
vocalist Andrew Elt also made the first of 3 appearances on the melodic
rocker 'Helping Hand' and returned to display a stunning range on 'Have
Mercy', which proved to be a supreme example of just how powerful
rock/blues can be.
those two songs Walter brought a hush to the room as he dedicated his
Dutch hit 'Say Goodbye to the Blues' to 'Big Derek' another in the sadly
increasing list of lost friends and acquaintances.
turned a sombre blues inside out with a humorous quip at the end of the
song, when after some virtuosic volume swells he told us someone had
said his playing sounded like the celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to which
he quipped, 'this is the blues ... its about yo momma'.
And so to the much anticipated jam between Trout and Chubby which proved
to be as much contrast in stature as the difference between Chubby's
piecing runs and Trout's quivering vibrato.
show confirmed two things, there's no substitute for a meeting of
charisma and great musicianship and this exuberant double helping
confirmed the substance of the 'Giants of Bluesrock' tour brand.
by Steve Goudie
Interview (Popa Chubby)
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