Walter Trout – Parr Hall Warrington
Having played in bands with the likes of Joe Tex and John Lee Hooker, Walter Trout earned his stripes as a guitarist with Canned Heat and subsequently a long spell with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. In 1989 he left to form his own band, unsurprisingly named 'The Walter Trout Band', and since then he has relentlessly toured and released many, many fine albums.
I hadn't seen him play for some years and I got myself ready on the day of the gig by listening to his latest album 'Common Ground'; a great album that shows his virtuosity and ability to deliver every emotion through his astounding playing technique.
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The name of the venue, 'Warrington Parr Hall', doesn't inspire or bring to mind great venues, as would the likes of 'The Roundhouse' or 'The 100 Club, but it has seen many great bands play there over the years. This night would be no exception. With the crowd just under capacity, the evening got underway with a set from the Mitch Laddie Band. Their mixture of blues and blues-rock was a perfect taster of what was to come later and highlighted the considerable talents of the young Mitch Laddie. It's encouraging to see that not all young guitarists are not content in thrashing out power chords but are taking on the mantle of the blues; a fine talent and definitely one for the future.
Walter and his band came on stage to a great reception. Almost apologetically they launched into their first song. I had forgotten how great a guitarist Walter Trout is and seeing him playing live, you can witness the unbelievable technique and sheer ability to the full. The band's sound was rich and deep; a solid backbone comprising of the solid drumming of Michael Leasure and the irrepressible bass of Rick Knapp (a true master of his craft). The sublime Hammond organ playing of Sammy Avila glued it all together. Each song seemed to improve on the last (is that's possible), as the band launched into some breathtaking instrumental diversions. The blues was evident throughout and I found it dumbfounding when some idiot in the crowd shouted 'Play some blues'; to the derision of the crowd and the scolding from Walter, the culprit slipped away into the shadows.
The guitar solos throughout were melodic, technically excellent and fast. The playing filled the hall with pure adrenalin. Drawing from old and new, the set reminded me of the substantial ability and vast back catalogue of the man. I had re-found a lost master. He produced power and energy in every song and the twisting facial expressions showed that each note of his solos was wrenched from his soul.
Towards the end of the set, Andrew Elt (the band's Tour Manager!) joined the band on stage to play guitar. Not as surreal as it sounds, it just seemed to fit in with the evening. During their encore, he was allowed to let loose on the vocals; he sounded very like a young Robert Plant, an incredible voice.
The evening was rounded off with a cover and dedication to another great guitarist, the late Rory Gallagher. The crowd left the hall with smiles on their faces, talking away in superlatives. I even heard one person say 'That man is god!' Enough said.
To view all photos taken during this set click here. There are 1 available.