Recently, I got involved with a thread about which of rock’s founding fathers I have seen live in concert. Not those who sold millions of records, but those who helped build the foundation of rock and roll. At the time, I felt quite fortunate about who I had seen. But now, my list now seems much more compete after seeing the king of the 60s British blues scene, Mr. John Mayall.
The blues have never been much of a musical resting place for me, so don’t expect much elaboration here about Mayall’s set. I know most of the standards and standard bearers, but I am far from an aficionado. But, tonight’s musical journey through the blues was an enjoyable one. It was led by the 82-year-old Mayall and the solid band with which he has now toured and recorded with for several years.
If Mayall’s name is unfamiliar to you, the strength of his legend is revealed in a simple list of the names who have played in his bands. This short list for former members of Mayall’s Bluesbreakers sounds like a breeding ground for British rock royalty: Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and Mick Taylor.
Performing for the first night after a three-month break, Mayall led his talented band through a mix of original songs and well-known blues numbers. Surely, I have never seen a man in his 80s with a voice so strong and true to its original form like John Mayall’s. He also showed more energy and life than most performers I have seen that are half his age.
My familiarity with Mayall’s music was pretty much limited to his classic FM-radio staple, “Room to Move,” a lively number on which he simply kills it on harmonica. Not on this night’s set list, I did see that he played it at a few later shows on the current tour. I’m still kicking myself for not requesting it at the unusual pre-show meet and greet where he signed CDs for fans as they entered the venue.
Mayall and band seem to be on quite an extended tour of the US, so go see them if they come your way. This is a night of quality British blues, the memory of which you will forever treasure.
- The Bear
- The Sum of Something (Curtis Salgado)
- Dirty Water
- Help Me (Sonny Boy Williamson)
- Voodoo Music (J.B. Lenoir)
- Tears Came Rolling Down (Robert Johnson)
- I Want All My Money Back (Lee Baker, Jr.)
- Ain’t No Guarantees
- Nature’s Disappearing
- Drifting Blues (Charles Brown)
- Chicago Line
- All Your Love (Otis Rush)
John Mayall–Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar and Harmonica
Greg Rzab –Bass