Review: L.R. Phoenix – Live at Blues Rules Crissier Festival No 3

Posted on: Saturday, Nov 24, 2012

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L.R. Phoenix – Live at Blues Rules Crissier Festival No 3


The so-called ‘alt blues’ is probably at a higher profile than ever at the moment, with the likes of Dave Arcari, Andres Roots, Red Mouth and more, proudly flying the flag . . . and to them can be added the Englishman, residing in Finland – L.R. Phoenix – aka Leighton Phoenix, here captured on fine form at Blues Rules Crissier Festival No. 3 in Switzerland.

Here we have an enjoyable ‘warts and all’ live recording from 26th May this year, with a typical Phoenix set of Delta and folk blues classics, with the inbetween songs chat left in to add to the enjoyment. He is armed with his 1950s Landola Arch-top guitar, suitcase for a kick drum, tambourine on the foot, reindeer antler/steel fork/bottleneck slides . . . oh, and a bottle of Jack Daniels for, ahem, medicinal purposes!

The music is lapped up by an appreciative festival audience as he stomps and hollers his way through the set, ending up in a ‘very relaxed’ mode, courtesy of the afore-mentioned ‘JD’. He’s off to a cracking start with the Wolf’s classic “Smokestack Lightnin'”, with another classic in the form of Fred McDowell’s “I Left My Baby Standing”; followed by an amusing anecdote referring to a Tibetan monastery and a bad woman . . . leading into the more recent RL Burnside song, “Going Down South”, with a growling vocal, rhythmic guitar and percussion . . . he’s got a hell of a lot going on!

With a little bit more ‘medicine’ on board from his friend Marty, he picks up the pace on “Red Cross Store” and “Freight Train”, with some nice guitar, featuring both slide and some picking. His slide work is prevalent again on a really nice “Jack Of Diamonds”, courtesy of his antler deer bottleneck, switching to a steel fork for “Po’ Boy”, that he heard by the legendary Bukka White.

A most entertaining set ends with a brace of copper-bottomed classics in the form of a stomping take on “John Henry” and “John The Revelator” – a well deserved encore delivered a capella as he has put his guitar down and the effects of the ‘medicine’ have taken its toll . . . great fun all through, but with due reverence shown to the history of these tunes and their writers.



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