Review : Robert Belfour – Worthenbury – 16 Dec
Posted on: Tuesday, Jan 2, 2007
Robert Belfour Supported By Tommy Allen @ Goin’ Up The Country Blues & Roots Club, Worthenbury, Wrexham
16th December 2006
This gig was the final part of a three gig long weekend visit by North Mississippi born but now Memphis resident Robert Belfour. The first two dates were in a church and Arts Centre at Stamford, Lincolnshire but this eagerly anticipated gig was his first ever appearance at a true UK blues club and as expected it had sold out weeks in advance.
However, before he made his debut, young UK blues guitarist Tommy Allen, better known for his blues/rock with his band Trafficker treated everyone to an excellent opening set of acoustic blues with a good mix of self penned numbers and covers.
Stand out numbers were Robert Johnson’s Walking Blues and Crossroads, the latter with a unique arrangement played on the mandolin and his own number Memphis Nights.
Sixty six year old Robert Belfour then took the stage to a resounding welcome and after a little introduction about his early days he opened with Rock Me Baby … “My old mother’s favourite… she used to smoke a pipe you know…”
However, he’d changed his strings before the gig and it appeared that they were not the correct ones and he had a problem keeping tune on the opening number and the following two, Catfish Blues and Got My Mojo Working. This did cause him some concern so he then asked us for perseverance whilst he got them sorted out on a long instrumental which allowed him to bend them a little.
It certainly did the trick because the next number, the self penned What’s Wrong With You, the title track from his 1st Fat Possum release followed by Holding My Pillow from the same CD were outstanding. This latter track he informed us was taught him by an old lady whose name he never knew, when he was 13 years old.
He then finished the first set with the traditional Poor Boy and Howlin’ Wolf’s Killing Floor which like all of the opening songs was a lengthy number played in the rhythmic repetitive style of the North Mississippi blues men. With Robert rocking slowly backwards and forwards, eyes closed as if in a trance it’s quite easy to see why this style has been coined “trance blues”.
After a lengthy interval when Robert took himself off for a little stroll around the village …”I needs a good half hour for a little smoke…” he kicked off the second set in style and it was good to see how relaxed he was.
He opened with Walking Down The Road which moved straight into Charley Patton’s Old Grey Mare. This was followed by Breaking My Heart from his 2nd Fat Possum CD Pushin’ My Luck and this was followed by the title track song, and a return to the 1st CD with the track Norene.
He then changed his tuning to Spanish for the final numbers all the while chatting to the youngsters who sat in the front row awe struck. Old Black Mattie, the top moment of the gig, that has been claimed by Belfour, RL Burnside and others was followed by Hooker’s Hobo Blues, and the concluding long instrumental Hill Stomp from the 2nd CD.
The audience response was overwhelming and an encore was readily delivered in the form of Hooker’s Boogie Chill’un to conclude a memorable evening. He had played for well over the expected tine and was rather disappointed that we had to finish when we did and had it not been for an early morning departure back to Memphis, I think he would have played all night!
I urge you all to catch him next time at the Spitz Festival in East London at the end of April.
There is another photo here on the bluesinthenorthwest.com Flickr pages
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