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Issue 1084

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Robben Ford, Ronnie Scott's, London 28/3/17

Robben Ford: Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde
Robben Ford: Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde Robben Ford: Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde Robben Ford: Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde Robben Ford: Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde Robben Ford: Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde Robben Ford (Band): Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde Robben Ford: Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde Robben Ford: Ronnie Scott's 30/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Carl Hyde

One of the world’s premier blues guitarists at one of the world’s premier venues. You know you’re watching a blues masterclass when the barman at Ronnie’s is applauding.

Robben Ford grabbed a packed Ronnie Scott’s by the throat with the first electrifying note from his guitar and apart from the respite of a short interval he didn’t let go for two and a half hours.

“It’s a pleasure to be here at Ronnie’s. I think the first time I played here was 1973 with Jimmy Witherspoon,” said Ford, a man who lets his music do most of the talking.

He brought two superb musicians across the pond with him, Jonny Henderson, organ and Evan Jenkins, drums. It’s difficult to convey just how good these guys were, a live album of this line-up would be worth buying. Henderson squeezed out solo after solo whilst giving support and bassline to Ford’s guitar genius. Jenkins, with a crisp touch, delivered the best kind of drum solos - short and staying within the confines of the beat.

Two sets comprising16 songs were dominated by content from Ford’s last three albums, four tracks from “Into The Sun”, two from “A Day in Nashville” and four from “Bringing It Back Home” the album Ford said in a 2016 interview was the favourite of his output. It’s good to see he is in prolific recording as well as live form.

Kicking off with “Same Train” Ford set a blistering pace – you could have left after track one with full value for money. He ripped through more of his recent tracks, coming up for air with the down tempo “Rose of Sharon” which he has said is his favourite song on “Into The Sun”. He picked up the pace with the driving “Cannonball Shuffle” which set the club alight, his tribute to “Freddie, one of the three Kings [with Albert and BB] and one of the few who recorded instrumentals”. The first set closed with “Thoughtless” from the “Soul On Ten” album and a beautiful, soaring guitar solo.

For his second set, Ford had discarded his [non-yellow] jacket and gained a guitarist, the Icelandic Björn Thoroddsen who he recorded with and produced last year. Ford was very happy to give the limelight to Thoroddsen who played on two numbers, the ice hot “Up The Line” and the beautiful “On That Morning” which was influenced by a gospel song according to Ford.

Next came “Cut You Loose” where the trio produced a far bigger sound than feasible from three people, and “Nothing To Nobody” co-written by Ford and Michael McDonald, just one of many collaborations Ford has been involved in over the past few years.

Ford continued with the slow blues “Fool’s Paradise” and a transfixed audience. “Lovin’ Cup” closed the main set. This was a scintillating performance from Ford who returned for the storming encore “Set a Date” with Thoroddsen. Gary the barman loved it, as did his customers.

PHOTOS: CARL HYDE
Words CHAZ BROOKS

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