Last October Ian Siegal played one of his solo shows as part of the Blues Festival at the Royal Albert Hall. He was recorded by the BBC and the result is this release which will be familiar to those thousands who have seen him playing without either his ‘regular’ band or combinations of Mississippi Allstars over the last couple of years. Of course, being a BBC recording, the sound quality is exceptional and his performance matches the sound – peerless.

His set consists of ten tracks of just Siegal and his guitar playing the songs that he has made his own over the last few years – traditional numbers like ‘Mary Don’t You Weep’, numbers by Charlie Patton and Taj Mahal and some of his own. His voice is gravelled and hearty and his guitar playing quite excellent – lots of slide as well as some genuine finger picking – but the songs are the stars here and he puts over all of the numbers in such a manner that the listener is fully aware of the subjects as well as being impressed by the man.

The Blues here are raw and painfully honest – no Stevie Ray Vaughan solos or hiding behind blinding musicianship – and all the mistakes and asides are kept in so that you get the performance in all its rough hewn glory.

I’ve seen Siegal many times and one of the features of his music is his communication with the audience so the introductions to songs like Charlie Patton’s ‘Pony Blues’ is part of the performance and shows the character of the man but his playing of the song itself is even moreso.

Every track is a performance worthy of note – some delightful vamping on ‘T’Aint Nobody’s Business’ or a powerful and emotive ‘I Am The Train’ or his deep emotion on ‘Falling Om Down again’.

When you hear a man play with this much intensity and quality and when you hear a performer holding a capacity crowd in the pam of his hand through 45 minutes of the purest Blues you begin to wonder why others need so much equipment and ‘show’ to put over the Blues but the truth is that there are very few musicians around who can play this well.

Ian Siegal is a special talent and one we should cherish. Either solo or with a band make it a duty to catch him live, he’s worth the effort.