Robert Cray last night was a revelation compared to the listless and bland version I saw a couple of years ago. He seemed reinvigorated and completely at ease with himself, his playing was sharp and the band were having as much fun as he was – it all translated itself to a capacity crowd who were in rapture from the opening notes.

On the face of it Robert Cray is a Blues guitarist but he has so much soul in him – as was seen in his latest album – and the playing last night was as much soul as Blues. Dover Weinberg is back with him playing Hammond and piano as well as his long time bassist Richard Cousins and the legendary Les Falconer on drums and that simple line up seems to allow Cray all the space he could wish for for his superb picking and soulful vocals. Simply, this is a band and not just Robert Cray plus backing musicians.

The set was pretty much as you would expect – a brilliant ‘Poor Johnny’ and stunning playing on ‘Right Next Door’ but the version of ‘Chicken In The Kitchen’ was played with great smiles and fun and the ‘dancing’ on ‘Hip Tight Onions’ was hilarious. Standout number for me was a superb ‘Deep In My Soul’ but as he doesn’t play with a setlist by the time you see him elsewhere on the tour he will have changed things up.

It really was great to see Cray enjoying some banter with the audience and joking with the band and playing with such style – his voice is better than ever and his playing sharp as a pin. A terrific evening and a very satisfied audience went out into the night.

Earlier, a young lady by the name of Azadeh played her songs on guitar and piano. She has a lovely voice and infectious sense of occasion. Try and get there in time to catch her set – well worth it.

Harrogate Royal Hall
Thursday 8th May
Box Office: 01423 502 116
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Gateshead, The Sage
Friday 9th May
Box Office: 0191 443 4661
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Cambridge Corn Exchange
Saturday 10th May
Box Office: 01223 357 851
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Norwich Theatre Royal
Sunday 11th May
Box Office: 01603 630 000
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Tunbridge Wells, Assembly Hall Theatre
Tuesday 13th May
Box Office: 01892 530 613
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Cardiff St. David’s Hall
Wednesday 14th May
Box Office: 02920 878 444
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Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Friday 16th May
Box Office: 0844 907 9000
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Edinburgh Queen’s Hall
Saturday 17th May
Box Office: 0131 668 2019

Guildford G-Live
Sunday 18th May
Box Office: 0844 7701 797
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Picture by Mark Lloyd