Talk about a tight, intuitive unit. Robert Cray and his band are four pairs of safe, experienced hands, arranging everything in its right place – which is perhaps not the howling spirit of the blues but certainly made for a wholly pleasurable listening experience.
Cray’s blues generally involve women. His laidback petition Will You Think Of Me was seasoned with delicious descending chords, the warm drone of the organ and a Latino flourish to the percussion, while he made more of the sexual ache of separation on rhythm’n’blues set The Things You Do to Me.
His natural feel for phrasing on vocals and guitar resonated through the old school soul of Bouncing Back and the sultry slowburn of The Last Time (I Get Burned Like This). Having effectively serenaded the audience into a comfortable reverie for an hour, it was perhaps overly optimistic to ask them to dance but the pulsing northern soul groove of instrumental Hip Tight Onions was a worthy nod to Booker T’s green variety, lavished as it was with plentiful melodic Hammond organ from Dover “Whitecliffs” Weinberg.
In case that was too much excitement to handle, Cray settled back into blues standard Sitting on Top of the World and his mellow breakthrough hit Right Next Door (Because of Me) which cast him as a bluesy heartbreaker 30 years ago. But it was his closing stripped back performance of Time Makes Two which packed the emotional catharsis lacking in other parts of his set.
Seen on 14 October