Review – Memo Gonzalez – Warrington
Posted on: Saturday, Oct 21, 2006
Warrington RnB Club at Warrington Town FC – 20 Oct 2006
Since catching an unkown Memo Gonzalez & The Bluescasters at the Burnley Blues Festival some six years ago and being totally blown away by them, a North West appearance has always been eagerly anticipated.
The big man from Dallas, based in Germany for a decade, and his band – Kai Strauss (guitar and vocals), Erkan Ozdemir (bass) and new recruit, Henk Punter (drums) – are simply one of the top live blues acts anywhere – delivering a heady mix of Texas blues, Louisiana grooves, with a touch of soul and rock ‘n’ roll thrown in for good measure!
Apart from Memo Gonzalez’s great showmanship – he is a fine singer and no slouch on the harmonica – the band’s trump card is ace German guitarist, Kai Strauss – who comes over as a cross between Jimmie Vaughan and Ronnie Earl and again supplied some of the most jaw-dropping guitar I have ever heard!
A 90-minute plus set at Warrington Blues Club saw all bases covered from the Texas roadhouse blues of “Sweet Little Thing” and “I Wanna Ask You Pretty Baby” to the Southern soul of “Slip Away” – giving Kai Strauss a chance to show off some impressive Steve Cropper-style chops – and the excellent “The Love Of Money”, with its glorious groove and Leslie guitar.
Kai Strauss’s showcase on Junior Parker’s “I Wanna Ramble” was quite stunning, as Memo left the band to it, with the top-notch rhythm section of Erkan Ozdemir and Henk Punter driving the music along.
All four of the bands CD releases were dipped into, with other highlights being the wry “Mama, I Like Your Thighs” and “Angel In High Heels”, for, as Memo enlightened us “all the lovely ladies here tonight”.
A series of encores were topped by the Louisiana stomper “Big Time Operator”, with Kai Strauss taking a walk through the crowd while delivering another blitzkrieg guitar attack with some amazing ‘surf’ guitar, before clambering atop a chair and then returning to the stage – great stuff!
Opening up the show was Italian bluesman Robi Zonca, on his first visit to these shores. In the company of Stefano Galli on acoustic guitar, he performed a nice set, on electric guitar, showcasing some of his original tunes – standouts being “New York City Blues” and “My Baby She’s Gone”. A return visit with full band is on the cards for next year – check him out!