Monday 11th July 2016
Under The Bridge, Stamford Bridge, London, United Kingdom
American guitarist Robben Ford was performing at the nightclub and venue Under The Bridge under the Chelsea Football Club, Stamford Bridge for the first time this evening and he couldn’t look happier.
One of his friends and comtempories Sonny Landreth performed at UTB in October 2015 to a packed London crowd and I can’t help but wonder if on his return to America, Sonny called Robben and told him how great the venue. I mean as I was discussing with guitarist Bernie Marsden just last week ‘the blues music scene is not a genre but a community where everyone tries to help their fellow musicians all they can e.g. featuring on each other’s albums etc.’
You can read our review of Sonny Landreth at UTB here: http://bit.ly/1lDlVf4
Walking onstage as a three-piece to a sold-out venue, The Robben Ford Band opened with ‘Midnight Comes Too Soon’ taken from their latest album ‘Into The Sun’. Donning a colourful patterned suit jacket, Robben’s electric guitar solo on his Fender Telecaster had real bite as the rhythm section of Wes Little on drums and Brian Allen on bass kept the groove going.
‘Rainbow Of Promise’ has a driving beat which features a jazzy guitar interlude which lets the audience know that although he plays blues rock he is also an accomplished jazz guitarist having performed with the jazz legend Miles Davis.
Changing guitars to a red Gibson SG for slow blues number ‘Come on Home’ Ford had a great use of musical spacing and pacing whilst ‘Birds Nest Bound’ taken from his 2013 album ‘Bringing It Back Home’ featured a subtle drum intro with brushes and a bass solo that had elements of Marcus Miller, who also worked with Miles Davies.
Robben’s tribute to Freddie King with ‘Cannonball Shuffle’ was a high-energy performance and respectful. A bluesy romp that wasn’t depressing and got the crowd moving.
‘High Heels and Throwing Things’ is a track with tongue in cheek humour that really highlights Robben’s skills as a writer and co-writer. He then left the stage in the middle of the set for his band to perform solos. Like a lot of roots acts, Robben made sure the show wasn’t all about him but the band as well.
There is no question that his bandmates are highly skilled at what they do from years of touring around the world but solos can sometimes drag a little bit which was the case here just a little bit.
The solos did help get the crowd even more pumped up though so on Robben’s return to the stage the cheers grew louder as he told us about ‘The Guitar Army’ EP project which he recorded with Lee Roy Parnell and Joe Robinson before treating us to ‘Going Up On My Shoulder’ which featured on the EP. The song had a real Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY) style about it whilst ‘Gonna Cut You Loose’ and ‘Let Peace Have Its Day’ saw Robben just play out on his Telecaster with such power and crispness.
My favourite song of the set was ‘Fool’s Paradise’ from ‘Bringing It Back Home’, his first album on Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group as it is a lyrical masterpiece which is written with funky guitar in mind. Robben was humbled by the audience’s response and explained that he really loved the venue.
At the end of the evening fans were given the opportunity to meet Robben and have their CDs signed at the merchandise table which was a really classy thing to do I thought.
In conclusion, Robben Ford is well versed in both blues and jazz and that allows him to craft these highly entertaining and melodic live shows that take you on a special music journey where you are not entirely sure where you’ll end up. That is all part of the magic though as if you knew what was coming you wouldn’t be surprised at all. Hopefully The Robben Ford Band will return to the UK soon especially after that electrifying set.
Robben Ford’s new album ‘Into The Sun’ is out now on Provogue/Mascot Label Group. You can read our interview with Robben about the new album here: http://bit.ly/1ZSpiBA