When I look back on my music collection there appears to always be quite a bit of Blues. Ok so it is not like I am so in love with the Blues that I would disregard everything else, but there is something about this genre that really stirs ones emotion. And I don’t mean just a little bit, I mean you can really feel what the artist is going through, or has gone through.
So when two different people in Amsterdam recommended that I head to see Robert Cray on a Tuesday night, it didn’t take long for me to think this was a fantastic idea. And why is that I hear you ask? Well firstly he has played with the likes of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker just to name a few. And I expect none of those guys would be caught playing with a fool. And secondly he has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, oh and he is a five time Grammy award winner, both of these things will get me out to see anyone!
Robert kicked of the evening with some really traditional blues, I was wrapped, I mean what I am most familiar with from him, is a real 80 soul style, so in my heart of hearts I longed for him to really give me an evening of proper blues. So as he took the stage in a checked shirt (no silver eighty’s style suit) I was very pleasantly surprised and right from the jump, it was all about the blues.
What was also impressive is that he was playing his own Robert Cray signature Fender guitar. Now I am not a guitar freak, but even that impresses me, a blues legend who has his own signature guitar, maybe I have seen plenty that have and just never noticed but either way to have that you have got to have the goods.
Cray was flanked by Bassist Richard Cousins, longtime collaborator and also a Grammy award winner and who had only recently rejoined Cray following his departure back in 1991. On Drums was Tony Braunagel who’s precision and timing ensured that the band never missed a beat. But it was Keyboardest Jim Pugh on his Hammond B3 organ that provided me (and most of the crowd) with much entertainment over the course of the evening, this was through his facial expressions and the sheer delight he expressed of playing to the Paradiso audience to a couple of great solos.
From what I could tell, Robert and the band didn’t use a set list at all, the band just seemed to be following Roberts lead every step of the way, I am sure there are standard tracks they will play at most shows but the rest is up to his discretion.
All in all for mine, it was Robert’s ability to make his guitar scream and sing that I loved. The audience adored him, the songs were a great mix of old and new and the band looked like not only where they cooking on stage, but they were thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Ok, so he is not as flashy as some guitarists but he is solid and he does what he has to do. I guess he is a bit like the blues himself, I mean the blues doesn’t have to be flashy either, but you know exactly where it is coming from.