You know, sometimes you go to a gig not expecting anything more than a good night out and come away with your perception of what ‘a good night out’ actually is. At Chester Live Rooms, as a part of his ongoing Battle Scars tour, Walter Trout and his band – along with his three sons, Jonathan, Dylan and Mike along with honorary Trout Brother, Adam – provided one of the most outstanding feasts of live music ever experienced.
The sold out audience was already hot and sweaty by the time The Trout Brothers Band took the stage, but once they started playing the temperature rose exponentially. The talent these boys have is not only a credit to their father, but also to the music they have so clearly embraced. Elder sibling Jonathan on lead guitar is all poise, style and grace, with a voice that is just ragged enough around the edges to give his songs a depth that is astonishing in one so young. American Dreaming is as coherently observational as you could wish, with his cool playing bolstering everything he touches.
Then there is Mike Trout on rhythm guitar, who appears more than happy to take a back seat until his moment comes to blow the roof off the place with Mild Cheddar, with some slick licks and a voice that is as mellow as vintage port.
With Adam Ditt providing some rock solid bass lines, Dylan Trout on drums has so much power, so much drive and so much all round tub thumping cleverness it is little wonder he split the skin on his snare.
Oh yeah, dressed in Doctor Who t-shirt, jeans and wearing black rimmed glasses, it is easy to think the guy is even younger than his fourteen years … right up until he crashes those cymbals and rattles those tom toms, when he becomes a whole different animal. This was an amazing performance by all involved and one more than worthy of that which was set to follow.
And what was to follow became nothing more than a music laden fuel injected juggernaut, with Walter Trout clearly basking in his recent near death experiences and intent on living life to the full. The order of the day was clearly to emphasise authority and exuberance in all he does, but in such an exhilarating fashion there is barely time to catch your breath.
Kicking off with Outta Control and charging on at full throttle for the following two hours, here is a man who is clearly in his element. Posturing and posing, wearing his guitar on occasions as some kind of phallic prop, the way he nearly makes the thing bleed at times is simply awe inspiring.
Of course this isn’t a solo effort. Michael Leasure on drums is a resounding, solid thumper that adds a relentlessness to everything. Johnny Griparic on bass is just so beautifully controlled and clearly so in to what it is he is doing, his playing becomes an almost tangible thing, which is all given an immaculate platform from which to embark thanks to the mellow magnificence supplied by Sammy Avila on Hammond Organ.
As superb as these guys are and as fantastic a job as they do though, this show is really all about Walter Trout. His is beautifully delivered tribute to “the greatest bluesman who ever lived, B B King,” with Say Goodbye to the Blues and his high voltage playing on Going Down with Jonathan joining his old man on stage, thereby enacting one of the greatest guitar duels you are ever likely to witness, this was a feel good gig to rival any other.
Okay, there were one or two anecdotes covering his recent liver transplant, resultant dramatic weight loss and subsequent brain damage – so severe that Trout had to relearn how to walk, talk and play – but even these ‘horror stories’ add to the occasion, laced as they are with dark humour. There is nothing melodramatic or self-indulgent in these tales. They’re just recounted as they were, with the consequential song being delivered with aplomb.
I’m Almost Gone could have been morbid. It wasn’t. Haunted by the Night could have been morose. It wasn’t and all this adds further testament to the fact that Walter Trout should be in no position to do what he’s doing: “I’m just happy to be f#####g breathin’,” he says and we should be extremely grateful for the fact that he is.
One ridiculously hot night … and I’m not talking about the weather here either … Walter Trout quite simply rocks and I cannot wait to repeat the experience again because this, in its own unique way, could be argued to have been the gig of the year thus far.
Images used by kind permission of Matt Negus – NP Photography
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