Vintage: September 2004

Posted on: Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008

VINTAGE REVIEW
PAUL BYRD
Warrington R&B Club, Warrington Town FC: 17.09.04

The supremely talented Texan guitarist Paul Byrd, on his fourth visit to these shores, stopped off at Warrington for the first time, and gave the excellent turn-out a night of fantastic blues to remember!

The man from Forth Worth is a powerful performer – a master guitar player and also a great singer, who knows how to work a crowd with his laid-back charm very evident – picked up from many years on the road back home.

Backed by a great Midlands trio – Chris Lomas (bass), Fred Skidmore (keyboards) and Carl Hemmingsley (drums) – he delivered two knockout sets of classic blues – many from such masters as BB, Freddie and Albert King, together with songs from his current “Without Further Adieu” album.

The night kicked off with the rollicking “Sugar Free, Sugar Mama”, with its wry lyrics, before the first dip into the Albert King catalogue with the classic “Don’t Burn Down The Bridge” – with Byrd firing off some classic guitar lines, his face a picture of passion for the music and straight from the heart!

The timeless “Key To The Highway” was delivered in a funky groove, the way the late, great fellow Texan, Freddie King, used to play it, before the tempo was taken up for his own “Owe, Owe, Owe”, with its Jimmy Reed feel.

A much longer second set kicked off with Otis Rush’s “Cut You Loose”, with keyboard man Fred Skidmore given ample opportunity to solo, as indeed he was all night – having seen him many times in different bands this was probably the best I have seen him play!

Two standouts in the second set were the great “The Hustle Is On”, from another Texas legend, T-Bone Walker, with more fantastic guitar from Byrd; and the lovely jazz song, “Funny How Time Slips Away”. Another highlight was the Latimore song, “Straighten It Out” – his interpretation of this r&b hit from 1974, featured possibly the most intense vocal performance of the night.

A great medley featuring “Driving Wheel”, “So Many Roads, So Many Trains” and “Help The Poor” saw some blistering slow blues as Byrd stood tall at the front of the stage and let rip some quite stunning guitar.

A raucous end to a truly great night saw an audience sing-along on “Downhome Blues”, with the whole room joining in, and a romp through “Sweet Home Chicago”, which saw the dance floor full.

Many thanks must go to Ray and Barbara O’Hare for bringing such a great artist to the area – this is a man who should be on the main stage at festivals – promoters please take note! Come back soon Mr. Byrd – you are the real deal!

GRAHAME RHODES

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