Ben Poole was a name that had crossed my ears recently and so I was looking forward to catching him tonight at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. He sings with a smooth caramel vocal and plays mellow songs with that trusty blues nod of the head. He dedicated ‘Time Might Never Come’ to Gary Moore who he was fortunate to spend some time with prior to his passing. Ben’s rendition of this song opened like sunshine breaking through a mist filled woodland. He played a beautiful solo that the crowd really enjoyed, that was the sun burning away the mist. Ben showed his diversity as a musician and a slightly different angle to the gentleman he was supporting and others in his field, with ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’ taken from his ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ album. A song that was less bluesy and more funky than other material he played tonight, accompanied by some quality keys from Steve Watts, the set was closed with a good solo kick.
As great a job as Ben Poole did, it was impossible to not be overshadowed by the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Kenny Wayne Shepherd has carefully selected the musicians around him such as newly returned Scott Nelson on bass, Riley Osbourn (ex-Willie Nelson) on keys and Hall of Fame inductee Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble) on drums. Noah Hunt has been with Kenny for 18 years and the special respectful relationship that has fostered between them in that time is apparent throughout the show with each given their chance to shine.
Prior to playing it Kenny spoke of ‘Heat of the Sun’ being one of his favourite songs from ‘How I Go’. This beastly song evokes feelings of taking a sunset drive accompanied by a dapper dressed young man. This is followed by the very bluesy ‘Talk to Me Baby’. Known for his blues abilities Kenny plays his Fender with class, talent, skill and devotion, he makes you want to shout your appreciation but you dare not for fear of missing a single note. ‘Talk To Me Baby’ also includes a fantastic solo from Riley that truly was music to my ears.
‘Deja Voodoo’ was the song that introduced us to Kenny back in 1997 and hearing it live still sends shivers down my spine when it kicks in a minute or so into the song. The heavy low notes play out like a polar bear striding out across the artic tundra, with Noah‘s tambourine eeking throught the snow melt like spring flowers.
Starting with a cover of Jonny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s ‘Looking Back’ the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band took us through a medley including two BB King tracks, smoothly running through them all without a break and Kenny even managed to slip a guitar pick to a young fan in the front row. The medley featured an immense guitar solo that had those in seats on the edge of them and was greeted with rapturous applause that drowned out Noah as he came back in to sing the song out with his velvet rock vocal.
Musicians like Kenny and his band do not come along very often they inspire, bring joy, heal, are an elixir but above all they are a pleasure to listen to and watch live, tonight was no exception.
Set List: Never Lookin Back, Everything Is Broken, House Is Rockin, Kings Highway, True Lies, Search and Destroy, Heat of the Sun, Talk to Me Baby, Deja Voodoo, Born With A Broken Heart, BB King Medley, Dark Side of Love, Shotgun Encore: Blue on Black, King Bee, Oh Well, Voodoo Chile