Cadogan Hall 15th 2013
Robert Cray is a five time Grammy award winner and has also been inducted in the Blues Hall of Fame along with other guitar luminaries such BB King, Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton, all of whom he has played with. The plaudits continue with his latest album Nothing But Love (produced by Kevin Shirley) winning Guitarist Magazine's album of the year. Cray is at the top of his game, so it is only fitting that his killer new album receives a fashionable London Showcase.
Cray has been playing guitar since he was a teenager and that maturity shows in his selective and mature blues playing. He continually works the fretboard of his custom Stratocaster to get that clean and crisp sound, his playing is instantly recognisable. He opened the set with the upbeat signature tune Phone booth and treated us to other classics like Poor Johnny and Smoking Gun. The only person who appeared to be working hard on stage was the guitar tech who Cray had frequently changing different guitars during the set. But playing guitar is not all he does so well and so effortlessly, he is also an amazing songwriter and singer. Cray makes his performances seem casual and intimate, he is totally at ease in front of an audience and they love him. He is not a raconteur, preferring to let his songs speak for themselves. Although he did jokingly suggest that one of his hit songs Because Of Me (Right Next Door) was about bass player Richard Cousins' exploits off stage!
Although Cray is essentially the front man he prefers to see himself as one part of the band and what a band they are; he is surrounded by three of the most amazingly talented musicians around. Richard Cousins on bass, Jim Pugh on keys and Les Falconer on drums. Rolling Stone magazine credits Cray as “reinventing the blues...” which he does with panache and vigour. New song and cautionary tale, Side Dish is a real toe tapper and Blues Get Off My Shoulder is a sultry modern interpretation of old school blues.
He rounded off the night a blinding version of his latest single Memo and the oh so bluesy Time Makes Two. It was a real treat to see this doyen of the blues world play some of his fantastic new material including (Won’t Be) Coming Home and Fix This. Of the latter Cray says, “fix this broken heart of mine...then I wouldn’t have to sing these songs any more.” I hope nobody fixes it any time soon because it would bring some Sadder Days to his fans: and after the sanding ovation The Robert Cray Band received, I’m sure that's the last thing they'd want!