O2 EMPIRE SHEPHERD'S BUSH 4th July 2018 Supersonic Blues Machine made their UK debut at last year's Ramblin' Man Fair, where they commanded one of the most attentive and appreciative audiences over the weekend. Although they may be a relatively new unit in band terms, they are made up of seasoned musicians who attract some equally notorious guests.
Their most recent album Californisoul was a hit with blues fans, marking them as a blues-rock tour de force. Drummer Kenny Aronoff and bass player Fabrizio Grossi make up an enviable percussion section and Kris Barras replaces Lance Lopez as lead guitarist and vocalist. Barras may be a relative newcomer, but is seen a wunderkind in musical circles, but has earned sufficient stripes to play alongside the powerhouses of percussion- Aronoff and Grossi. Barras is perhaps a little tentative as the band play through I'm Done Missing You and I ain't Falling Again. Vocally he's not as forward as Lopez, but this certainly adds a more British blues feel which helps to ground the band in their roots. As a former mixed martial arts fighter, he's not one to shy away from a challenge and has to be good at thinking on his feet, although this could also explain his more controlled, zenlike stance earlier on. His talent is not in question, but working with a band that are adept at bluesy syncopation and improvisation keeps Barras on his toes until he goes in for the kill: of course all the other musicians, including special guest Billy F Gibbons have
a distinct advantage of playing and jamming together before and that's the kind of synergy you cannot buy. Elevate livens things up and by the time they perform Hard Times, Barras has hit his stride, letting rip with frantic playing and plenty of Hendrix inspired moves. At times it comes across as a little overworked compared to the slightly more understated Serge Simic, but it's the showy display we've been waiting for from the new frontman.
Grossi credits special guest Billy F Gibbons as the Godfather of the band, and by the time he joins the jam the party is in full swing and as the song suggests, their mojo is definitely working. Gibbons performs the tracks he's recorded with the group Running Whiskey and Broken Heart and of course a ZZ Top classic, Sharp Dressed Man. Support act Davy Knowles joins the stage for the encore along with Bernie Marsden who makes a surprise appearance. The audience are in guitar heaven – and not for the first time tonight - as the Rev. Gibbons allows each guitarist to take the floor for another jam session that could easily have lasted all night - Supersonic indeed.