Doyle Bramhall II with special guest Jon Allen, May 2017, Under The Bridge, Stamford Bridge, London, United Kingdom
Doyle Bramhall II with Special Guest Jon Allen
Saturday 27th May 2017
Under The Bridge, Stamford Bridge, London, United Kingdom
This was a very special one-off UK headline performance by guitarist Doyle Bramhall II at the comfortable Under The Bridge club and music venue which is nestled under Stamford Bridge (Chelsea Football Stadium).
Doyle released his new album ‘Rich Man’ on Concord Music Group last year and this show was the last night of an extensive European and UK tour which also saw him support his friend and fellow musician Eric Clapton for four nights at the legendary Royal Albert Hall prior to his own gig.
We were treated to a solo acoustic set by British singer-songwriter and friend Jon Allen who arrived in a trilby and brown jacket. Having released three albums, he kicked off with ‘Going Home’ and straight away as a listener you can hear that his material weaves stories that connect with you.
“It’s another one that’s in a minor key. But it’s sad life.” The sad truth is that he isn’t wrong and the heartbreaking tale of ‘Night & Day’ proved that all too well. It was exciting news when Allen explained that he had nearly finished recording his fourth album and then he decided to play new track ‘Keep On Walking’. It was an upbeat number that had a real Bill Withers quality about it and makes it perfect travelling music.
Closing with his ‘hit’ if you like ‘Dead Man’s Suit’ about his love of second-hand clothing it was clear that he won the crowd over with his multi-instrumentalist skill (playing harmonica on ‘In My Light’ and his charming personality. Chatting to him briefly afterwards, he told us that his new record has a funky 60’s production and I for one cannot wait to hear more new songs by Jon Allen.
Arriving onstage to a track entitled ‘Interplanetary’ by the intergalactic Sun Ra Arkestra, Doyle and his three band members quickly set up and went into ‘Soulshaker’ which had punch as Bramhall played a Fender Telecaster but the vocals got lost in a poor vocal mix.
This was soon corrected though when he swapped his Tele for a Stratocaster as the groovy bass intro from Ted combined with the drums eased into ‘Veil’.
His guitar solo was fluid and full of space on this cosmic track as he varies his guitar tones and just gets on with it. Stage banter is minimal just like Joe Bonamassa but he has this real soul/Curtis Mayfield thing going on the riffs ring out.
‘My People’ was like a modern-day 21st century ‘People Get Ready’ but with an Indian backing and an airy approach.
Although Bramhall is known for his guitar skill, it must be said that he is an exceptional vocalist and ‘Mama Can’t Help You No More’ was a special moment. It reminded me of the time when I watched Lenny Kravitz at a packed Hyde Park on a rainy September day as his vocals were so smooth and just stop you in your tracks. With his Tobacco Strat in hand, Doyle just played like a demon with bundles of energy.
The keyboard solos by Adam Minkoff were in the vein of Mahavishnu whilst his slide guitar being played on a Gibson SG was reminiscent of early Pink Floyd. It is clear that Cream is a strong influence on Bramhall’s sound as the band brings all of the material to life.
A friend of mine Steve quickly informed me that Southern rock pioneer Gregg Allman had passed away aged 69 and that made the number ‘Keep You Dreamin’ that little more emotional.
It is exciting to watch and incredibly colourful especially when the guitarist and drummer Anthony swapped places so that an Arabic-esque saxophone intro can be summoned. Absolutely magical and at this point I wonder if Doyle Bramhall is a fan of Kula Shaker at all.
‘The Samaran’ focused more on freestyle and although it was technically well-played it seemed to miss me a bit. Yes it had more texture than say a Joe Satriani track but I still wasn’t sure.
What you need to understand is that this show was so much more that 12-bar blues and the obvious ‘my baby left me’s’ and ‘my train is a comin’. It was a mixture of blues, soul, jazz, funk, world music and fusion. If you enjoy music by Frank Zappa, Captain Beefhart, Pink Floyd then you would’ve taken something away from this show.
Doyle then rocked out as he waved his axe in front of the amp to create feedback effects. I felt that there was quite a lot of anger at this point in the set and I couldn’t figure out why.
But it was the surprise encore which saw a rare airing of an Isley Brothers tune called ‘Work To Do’ (which is from an unreleased record) and the hypnotic ‘Green Light Girl’ which featured on the soundtrack for the film ‘Out Cold’. As green lights bathed the stage, everyone in the crowd went wild as did I. This was the first song of his that I heard when I was a child and from that moment on I was intrigued.
The night ended with Doyle meeting fans and signing merchandise at the merch desk. He had two black t-shirts with different designs, ‘Rich Man’ CDs and vinyl and a free UK/ European Tour poster which they handed out throughout the evening.
In conclusion, this was the place to be in London on this particular Saturday night (unless you like football of course) and even with the sad news of Gregg Allman’s passing and the closed Tube stations which caused problems getting to the venue we left that gig with merchandise in our hands and smiles on our faces. Please come back to the UK anytime Mr Bramhall. We’ll be there.
(Many thanks to Pete Sargeant and Liam at Baxter PR for help with this review)
Doyle Bramhall II’s new studio album ‘Rich Man’ is out now on Concord Music Group.
You can read our full album review of ‘Rich Man’ here: http://bit.ly/2nMd68G
You can read our exclusive interview with Doyle Bramhall II here: http://bit.ly/2r8ys0H
For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2oGnKgL