Missisippi Blues @ St Bonaventures, Bristol 22nd October 2013 Part 1 – Lightnin’ Malcolm
This is Bluesdoodles first combined Gig & CD review
Opening tonight was Lightnin’ Malcolm in the guise of a one-man band – what a sound he created swampy blues at its best with a twist of influences from across the genres embedded in world music today. To quote Lightnin’ Malcom himself ‘Do it in the name of the Blues’ how very true the sell out audience were delighted as they warmed to the superlative music and the great repartee and company of Mississippi Bluesman Lightnin’ Malcolm. Tonight Lightnin’ Malcolm did a stellar rendition of his own song ‘So Much Trouble‘, this version was cut down from the Ian Siegal & Mississippi Mudbloods rendition on the album “Candy Store Kid”. The fact that it was still so good demonstrates the strength of the lyrics and melody as the charismatic blues-man delivered the track with verve and vigour wow you wanted to dance, jump up and down – but the space was restricted as the audience packed into this small venue to catch some true artistry. Lightnin’ Malcolm is a true performer having fun himself, engaging with the audience with his warm, smile, cheeky grin and great one liners, he is there so that we can have a great time. The tempo was hot and varied creating a swamy atmosphere as St Bonaventure‘s got warmer and warmer so that the atmosphere of a Juke Joint was replicated on a damp October evening in Bristol. Every track he played was a little bit special and as he referred to himself as a “One Man Mississippi Stomp Sound” he created the perfect storm of sound with the combination of his voice, guitar skills and the rhythmic back line produced by his scaled down drop kit, definitely the real deal. Anyone who has not had the opportunity (and if I was you I would remedy the situation as quickly as possible) can purchase his album ‘Rough Out There’.
CD – ‘Rough Out There’ – ReviewThe queue at the end of the gig was long as people wanted to take some Mississippi magic home with them. The album is a contemporary blues sound that shakes, stirs and rattles together a myriad of sounds and styles; there is fantastic slide guitar courtesy of Luther Dickinson on four tracks adding another layer into the mix; two of these numbers ‘Workin’ and ‘So Much Trouble’ were played live in a cut down solo version which worked really well creating that swampy juke joint fill. Whilst the versions on the album have a fuller funkier sound that fill the room and make you stomp your feet and wiggle those hips; what a beat and the lyrics are superb. This album again confirms the wealth of talent in the blues world but this album is a cut above many due to the combination of three layers of tone and sound that is melded together in perfect formation on every track. Firstly the tight back line driving an authentic rhythm giving every track a forward motion; overlaid with clever sympathetic mean guitar, this is no fast paced SRV clones so often heard, but a distinctive sound that draws into the beat and makes you want to squeak and shout. Lastly, the vocals, here we have the melodic, tuneful clear voice of Lightnin’ Malcolm who sings with conviction and meaning he believes in the music and wants you to hear every word and understand the nuances of the song. This magic, and so often rare, combination is demonstrated on ‘My Life is a Wreck‘ when he sings ‘No Place to Stay Baby‘ you are drawn to the melancholy lost sound of the voice and it becomes the truth in that moment. There is never a feeling that solos have been used to pad out they are there to add tempo, feeling and colour to the tracks that all have a twist of different genres with the creation of his own version of bleggae with that Caribbean feel added into the mix on tracks such as ‘Dellareesa‘ and ‘Reality Check‘. These are not reggae tracks they simply use the beat and mix it up and it works. The title track is hidden in the middle of the record and has a lovely spoken intro before the music builds up and the sorry and regret is reflected in the words and the tone of the musicians. This is an eclectic combination of modern sounds that have been woven into the structure of the blues – what a refreshing sound – blues that has escaped the constraints of the past but still true to its roots. The closing track demonstrates this so well with hip hop sound, gospel and blues mixed into a cocktail of delights that makes you believe and reflect on ‘How Blessed You Are‘. There is no doubt that Lightnin’ Malcolm is an immensely talented musician, with all the songs written and produced by himself and the selection of the special guests and the use of backing musicians show the understanding he has of the sound he loves and wants to reproduce for you. This album keeps the beat going and will definitely be on replay for a little while longer.