Music review: Keb’ Mo’, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

KEB’ MO’ is steeped in the blues, his rootsy fingerpicking and bottleneck sliding complemented by a warm-toned voice that also steers him into the realms of soul and R&B. The multi-Grammy-winning cat in the Panama hat was in amiably exuberant form for this rare Scottish visit, and in the company of a solidly tight quartet as he switched deftly between solid electric and resonator guitars.

Keb' Mo' was in exuberant form for this rare Scottish visit

Keb’ Mo’, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow ****

They opened with the bouncy positivity of Better Every Day and the rock-steady pacing of Ready for the Blues, his sinuous, big-toned electric guitar singing out the breaks. Then came the pungent funk of Government Cheese, about a man struggling for employment, with its ringing keyboard sequence from David Rodgers.

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There was a classic, beefy slow blues, electric guitar framing impassioned holler, but it was when Keb’ switched to gleaming resonator guitar, playing solo or with spare accompaniment from drummer Marcus Finnie or bassist Stan Sergeant, that the true bluesman emerged, that taut, steely bottleneck whine lacing through Henry, his affectionately soulful tribute to fellow slide guitarist Taj Mahal – “I can hear the Delta calling/From the light of a distant star”; as well as in Every Morning, a simple love song that sounded straight from the heart.

An enthusiastic audience had already been primed by the young, Edinburgh-based acoustic Americana outfit Jellyman’s Daughter, with strong vocal harmonies from singer-guitarist Emily Kelly and singer-cellist Graham Coe bolstered by banjoist Jamie Francis and double-bassist Paul Gilbody.

JIM GILCHRIST