In contrast to Jonny Lang’s last visit to the Empire, this was a more sedate affair with floor seating rather than the standing he had on his last visit, which creates a noticeably different atmosphere. I prefer standing myself for blues rock gigs like this and given that we could not see through the heads directly in front of us, we took to standing at the rear of the venue floor.
Zane Carney, Jonny’s guitarist on this tour, is also his support act on this show. Having previously played for John
Mayer, you will understand that he is a player of significant calibre and he played his way through songs such as Fade to Black, some more of his own material, as well as the odd cover and he also threw in a little jazz number to the slight bemusement of the audience. He used a loop pedal quite a bit and this isn’t something I am a fan of hearing, I understand its use, it’s just not for me and that did put me off a little bit, it felt like it was a bit of a tough gig for him, but he managed the job well.
Jonny Lang opened his concert with a hint of funked up aggression in the form of Don’t Stop (For Anything), which was swiftly followed up by the title track off his latest album Signs with its blues groove and then some old school Jonny, A Quitter Never Wins from his 1997 solo debut album Lie To Me, a song which shows that his voice has only got better with age.
From the get go the passion for his music emanates from Jonny, both in sound and physical expression.
Snakes was a particular highlight from his new material, with its swampy musical undertones to the lyrics of a mama’s advice unheeded. This is a very punchy song and had me jumping up and down fearing the snakes below my feet.
Along with Zane Carney, Jonny has built himself a great backing band of very accomplished musicians in their own right from many of America’s treasure troves of talent. The relative simplicity of Rack ‘Em Up helped to show some of them off, followed by the beautiful Red Light.
Then it was time to up the grove to round out the set with Last Man Standing and Angel of Mercy, the latter of which is a wonderful show off of Jonny’s gift of a vocal and effortlessly fluid guitar playing ability.
After returning for an encore, Jonny stripped things back with the gentle Bring Me Back Home, before rounding off the night to rapturous applause with the stunning acoustic opening to Breaking Me, which bled into Lie To Me, the song that truly started Jonny off on this journey 20 years ago.
Jonny Lang is quite frankly a flawless musician, he makes it look easy, but the hard work, dedication and effort that has gone into his career has been worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears, it is truly a pleasure to hear this man sing and play his guitar.
Set list: Don’t Stop (For Anything), Signs, A Quitter Never Wins, Snakes, Rack ‘em Up, Red Light, Last Man Standing, Livin’ For the City, Angel of Mercy Encore: Bring Me Back Home, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Breaking Me, Lie to Me