The Bull Theatre Barnet 1st August 2013
Andy Fraser has been to hell and back and lived to tell the tale. In fact, it wasn't too long ago that the press had mistakenly written him off as dead! After seeing him perform on stage at The Bull Theatre I can say that he is very much alive and kicking. For a guy that has touched the hand of death on several occasions it was inspiring to see such a respected and influential musician rocking out and enjoying life. Joining Andy on stage is an equally talented bunch of musicians including Chris Spedding and Andy's protégé Tobi.
The band start the set with All Right Now an old Free favourite (as if you didn't know!) Andy has penned some new lyrics to introduce the band so it works well as an opener.
The majority of the evening focusses not on Andy’s own material post Free but on Tobi. Andy has worked closely with Tobi to produce and record his albums including The Spirit In Me which received a Grammy nomination and his latest EP The World (which can all be downloaded from Andy's label McTrax). Tobi has a distinctive voice and shows acumen as a guitarist. For an 18 year old he is in an enviable position of being able to work with some of the greatest musicians in the biz who will inform his craft over the next few years. He demonstrates great potential as a new artist.
I Will Be Free, Evil Woman and Bad Love are all tracks worth checking out. He is able to move with ease between R & B and rock and also some world music influences. Tobi is heading off to Cambodia soon to do some guitar workshops with children, so I dare say he may pick up some more musical influences there too.
Chris Spedding continues to show his skills
as a guitarist having worked as a session musician with some big names such as Elton John, Bryan Ferry and features extensively on Jeff Wayne's War Of The
Worlds. He gives Tobi a rest from lead vocals by singing his hit Motorbiking and Way Down In Louisiana. Andy intersperses
the set with some more Free classics, firstly The Stealer which is received with a rapturous applause. As an encore the band play a stonking rendition of Mr Big
which does not disappoint as Andy works his bass in one of the most memorable bass lines in rock.
Support for the evening was provided by Malcolm Bruce, son of Jack Bruce of Cream fame and an accomplished musician in his own right. His songs are thoughtful and at times melancholic but always poetic. His classical training and jazz influences are apparent with his use of unusual chord structures and melodies. Towards the end of the set he welcomes to the stage his very talented daughter Maya (who is also a backing singer in the Andy Fraser Band along with Barbara J Hunt) to perform a composition Summer Skin which they wrote together. They also do a wonderful acoustic version of the Ellie Goulding song Guns and Horses. Barbara J Hunt an established singer songwriter closed the first half, it was a shame that there wasn't enough time to hear some more of her wonderful songs.
The audience response was favourable too, with people saying that Tobi is one to watch out for in the future. Many also said it was a pleasure to see Andy Fraser perform as he has brought so much joy through music over the years. Tonight he certainly did just that. It was an evening brimming with first class musicianship and an opportunity to see some burgeoning young talent too.