Friday, 18 May 2012

Eric Bibb - 27 April 2012, Amstelkerk

Eric Sang the Blues

When you have the opportunity to see a Blues Legend playing in a 17th Century European Church, you have a certain vision of the show in your mind. Let’s just say from the start, that the Amstelkerk was not quite what I was expecting.

We arrived at 8pm, the time the doors opened according to the ticket. This was clearly wrong as the venue was already 80% full and all the best seats were already taken. That got me thinking about the idea of a door opening at a church and clearly how stupid I was to think that a church would ever actually close its doors.

The inside of the venue was not massively impressive, it was quite square in shape and didn’t have any of the spectacular stain glass or ornate painted pictures of Jesus on the walls or ceiling. It did however have the same brick paved flooring that was both inside and outside the venue and some large windows that caught the late afternoon sun. I cannot remember ever being as excited to go to a church, so I was really looking forward to going to see Eric play.

I have seen Eric perform before, and the setting of an old city has been exactly the same. This time also felt like that it could become a gospel service. As the concert time approached I noticed my expectations were moderately high and that’s because, live he is good, very good.

The support, Sean Taylor (from the North West of London), was really solid and impressive, also the max 250 people were equally impressed and applauded appropriately. All ages of the crowd were really transfixed on him and that is all you/he could possibly have asked for. The crowd could be described as a little apathetic in its engagement with Shaun, well that is until the they applauded and the venue was engulf in rapturous applause and the acoustics caused it to sound explosive.

After Shaun left the stage I found myself in a moment of reflection as the sun shone through the church windows onto the aged brick floor it was more than just strangely beautiful, in this house of the holy.

As Eric took the stage with beaming white teeth gleaming, the once “placid” crowd erupted in applause. What you notice about Eric was firstly, he was donned in a Brown Panama hat, and of course his smile that seemed to light up the room. Eric’s “partner in crime” for the evening would be a Swede called Staffan Astner on electric guitar and it appeared that this evening we would be a real treat.

Eric really does sing the blues. This is something that has been said several times about a slightly more famous Eric, but it is still equally true. Eric’s guitar playing was exquisite as was Staffan’s, even if his did have a slightly more electric feel. Also the acoustics suited all of Eric’s vocals and add that to the gospel feel from the amassed crowd, all in all it amounted to a very spiritual feeling and made the music feel more tangible.

Eric loves his songs and so he should as they are well crafted and performed brilliantly. His energy, passion and love for what he does is exactly what you love to see in a live show. On this night I am not sure that I was particularly familiar with many of the songs (although I do have his new album) and I did miss hearing, Tell Riley, Champagne Habits and Panama Hat, that being said, the performance was so good that I was ok with those songs being missed.

How many times can you say that you went to a performance and the 3 biggest hits weren’t played but you still walk away very happy?

Eric sang the blues, and I loved every single minute of it.



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