Sunday 27 October 2013


Live Review

Robin2, Bilston

Eric Bibb was destined to be a musician and even more so he was destined to be a blues player. Bibb knows how to put on a concert, he knows how to get his audience hopping but most of all he knows the blues.

Bluesman Eric Bibb
Bibb who has been playing acoustic guitar professionally since he was 16 may have taken a circuitous route to get here but when he arrived boy did he make an impression which is he is still doing.
Right from the off at the Wolverhampton venue, with New Home, his foot was stomping enthusiastically as he plucked out the delta blues sound. It was accented by his characteristic head wagging underneath his trademark hat, which seems glued on, and belting out the song with raspy, deep-toned voice.
He pulled out one of his audience's favourites next, Shingle by Shingle, which was a much lighter, softer and almost playful ballad with an oompah-style under beat to it. Bibb really let loose with a song about building a new life which was inspired by Turner's Station, Baltimore. During this song he was reminiscent of Howling Wolf or Lightning Hopkins as it opened with Glen Scott on the organ for another stomping blues number with  Bibb's enthusiasm and exaggerated head movements made him look a little he should be on the Muppet Show with Doctor Teeth and Animal. This was followed by another fast-paced track with Keep Your Mind On It.
Bibb slipped into old time spiritual mode with follow the Drinking Gourd which is a reference to the Big Dipper/The Plough and tells of the black slaves of America trying to escape by navigating with the constellation. Bibb's voice was more soulful and smoother for this number, which brought out the silkier side of his singing.
He then passed on his experience of visiting Africa and how moved he was by the experience. There were no surprises then that On My Way to Bamako had an African beat which was intertwined with a light calypso sound. This was more than helped along by Scott, this time on an African drum, Neville Malcolm on double bass, Paul Robinson on drums and Michael Jerome Browne on guitar.
His next offering Connected, toned down the sound with a gentle acoustic opening and his soulful voice coming to the fore which had more than a hint of  the legendary Ray Charles about it.
Bibb then pulled out the old classic Wayfaring Stranger, which seems to be very much in vogue at the moment with folk/acoustic singers. His was a fantastic soulful version which was carried along by Bibb's solo guitar playing.
There was another with a spiritual feel to it The Needed Time but it was slightly lighter this time and had a bluegrass undertone with Browne adding some colourful strands of sound with his slide guitar.
Michael Jerome Browne
Bibb then cranked it up to a stomping blues/funk number, When It's All Said and Done, which had a thumping beat giving it a sound which brought to mind native American Indians. This was backed up by some incredible slide guitar from Browne.
Mandela is Free was a song he wrote for the political leader to celebrate his release from Robben Island which incredibly he got to sing, one to one, to the great man who had come backstage to see the artists.
Bibb went back to another stomping blues number which had  a definite rock beat to it and for the first time in the whole gig he stood up.
His next offering was a cover version of I Heard Angels Singing which was written by Reverend "Blind" Gary Davies, a street singer in 1950s America and who died in 1972. He specialised in blues/gospel numbers and this particular song had the feel of a triumphal spiritual.
Bibb ended the set with another spiritual, Everyman, which was carried through with his gravelly voice and real passion.

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