The Borderline London
added: 4 Oct 2013
// gig date: 3 Oct 2013
reviewer: Andy Snipper
In ten years’ time a million people are going to nod knowingly and say “Yeah man, I was there that night: the crowd, the heat the playing …”, only, along with a few hundred others, I can will actually say that and know that it is true – it really was one of those gigs
Jonny Lang is all about passion. Whether he is playing Blues or soul or gospel he is exuding passion like no other artist I have ever seen except, maybe, James Brown. The packed crowd at The Borderline – his only UK gig this year – were treated to two hours of sublime music, extremes of emotion and one of the biggest smiles in the business.
He hasn’t played in the UK in over seven years and playing the Borderline suggested that he might be unsure of the reception he would get after such a long gap. In the event the crowd was stretching around the block over an hour and a half before the doors opened and his fans had come down from Newcastle, Nottingham and it sounded like Germany and Belgium. Frankly, he could have sold out the show three nights running such was the passion and interest from the crowd.
And they were treated to a superb set from a musician who seems to have found his love of music again and a band who are good enough to allow him all the room he needs to stretch out and jam – I swear that half of his playing was off-script and so much better for it. He is a singer and guitarist who goes where the muse takes him live and it takes a great band to handle it and not just peter out in puzzlement – these guys are good enough.
He switched up the pace and the content between rocking Blues, impassioned gospel and soul music that tore at your heart but always that huge smile and great playing.
The highlights were there all through the set from the very start with ‘Don’t Stop’ rocking like a beast and a super-funky ‘A Quitter Never Wins’ and then into a brilliant cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Living For The City’. ‘That Great Day’ showed all his passion and heart and he ripped it up with a pulsating ‘Blew Up the House’.
The heat and the playing seemed to increase through the set and the band climaxed on an uproarious ‘Rack ‘Em Up’, starting out slow and easy and building to a crescendo that even had the photographers in the front whooping and hollering.
He came back out for a solo version of Muddy Waters’ ’40 Days and 40 Nights’ and then donned an acoustic for ‘Lie To Me’ – it would not be unreasonable to say that the emotion that poured out of him on that number left most of the crowd gasping but then the band tore back onstage and they finished the number off with all the power of an A-bomb.
Throughout, the crowd was up for the show and the roar that poured out when he finished ‘Lie To Me’ was louder than I have heard at a packed Hammersmith Apollo.
This was NOT a slick American cabaret set – there were bum notes aplenty and more than a few times his playing was going in new directions leaving the band to catch up but that was all part of the reality of the show. This was a man playing his heart out and driving us all along with him. An organic experience if you will and not one where the band plays and the crowd listens mutely. One of the best gigs of the year – no question; it really doesn’t get better than this.
1. Don't Stop
2. A Quitter Never Wins
3. Turn Around
4. Red Light
5. Living for the City (Stevie Wonder cover)
6. That Great Day
7. Blew Up (The House)
8. Angel of Mercy
9. Rack'Em Up
10. What You're Looking For
11. 40 Days and 40 Nights (Muddy Waters cover)
12. Lie To Me
Picture by Stephen Fourie
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