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KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD 'TROUBLE IS...25 TOUR' - O2 ACADEMY SHEPHERDS BUSH

As 'Trouble Is...' celebrates its 25th anniversary KWS has taken the album on the road.





In 1995, five years before Joe Bonamassa's debut, an 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd had already set the blues world alight with his Stevie Ray Vaughn-inspired chops. His debut 'Ledbetter Heights' would be certified Gold and Platinum by the RIAA. His sophomore release 'Trouble is...' would also become a classic blues album and one of his most successful and mainstream albums.


Armed with vocalist, Noah Hunt, the rebranded Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, as they became, were ready to make their mark on the blues world. True, they are not as ubiquitous as Bonamassa, but that's no reason for them not to be on your radar. And if it's taken you 25 years to find then welcome, but where have you been?


On the final night of the UK tour, the band played through the record, but on shuffle. Starting with the instrumental title track is more like an overture for what is to come. After this energetic opener, the band settled into the slow blues groove of 'Somehow, Somewhere, Someday', before giving Bob Dylan's 'Everything is Broken' the Louisiana blues treatment.


Noah Hunt's vocals thankfully sound pretty much unchanged from the ones he recorded nearly three decades ago and Kenny has matured his guitar sound and playing. From being influenced by SRV, he's carved his own mark and influenced a new generation of blues guitarists. With his Fender Strat, every line and lick and wammy bar tug is precise, but with bags of feel. Some of the tracks tonight are extended from their original versions, the band are just happy to go with the flow and enjoy the moment.


While SRV is clearly an influence on Mr Shepherd, a certain Jimi Hendrix also shines through in his playing, so it's unsurprising that a Hendrix cover 'I Don't Live Today' is in the mix. ‘I Found Love (When I Found You)’ takes things down a step. Turns out the track is a favourite wedding song of fans'. Hardly surprising with the romantic lilt of KWS's guitar solo and Joe Krown’s solid Hammond foundation. 'Nothing To Do With Love' is unrecognizable from the Bonnie Tyler original.


KWS's influence and longevity is marked out when they play 'Blue On Black' a song that was recorded by Five Finger Death Punch 20 years later. It just shows how far-reaching these songs are and they still stand up. Thinking that they were composed by a guy who wasn't even twenty makes your head spin. Now they're all grown up, the maturity of the KWS band as performers just adds further validity to this album, yet the album doesn't feel as though it's aged at all.


An encore of 'Diamonds and Gold and a cover of 'You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now' wrap up this anniversary tour. And just like that, it's over and we'll have to wait until the next big birthday to (hopefully) hear the album played in full live once more.




Review by Cathy Clark

Photos by Gerry Driver



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