Dave stepped on the stage and we were in for a night of wild blues that is full-on acoustic there is never anything subtle this is blues that hits you in your solar plexus and works up the spine with excitement and anticipation as he plays from his back catalogue. Tonight in the opening few numbers he slipped in a couple of numbers on his much anticipated new album. He shared that the song writing was slow and having read about getting your song writing mojo back to avoid travelling songs he ignored that convention with not one but two travelling blues numbers – no hints of trains or whistles as he launched into Travelling Man on his signature shiny National guitar, about life on the road. The second new number had the stomp box creating a deep back drop to his high energy stage presence on I Went To America reflecting his recent gigging experiences.
Tonight we heard songs on his banjo, electric resonator, and his black National that always receives murmurs of approval from the audience I love that guitar, as he performed the title track from the album Got Me Electric. With stomp as well this was a number full of static electricity that fizzed and raised the hairs on your neck. Earlier in the set another track from the album Parcel of Rogues received a cheer in the setting of Robbie Burns’ poem written in 1791 about the act of union that is as relevant today with its anti-traitor sentiment. We had a version of Robert Johnson’s, Preachin’ Blues that is his own take on delta blues revitalizing the oft heard number, and making you realise with your attention caught the full depth of the this authentic number, found on Whisky In My Blood.
Fitting for a man dressed in black we have his tribute to the great Johnny Cash, Blue Train you never get many covers in the show but when you do they have the distinction of being given the Arcari treatment. Ending the first set with Good Friend Blues, a simple blues number which sounds so stunning because of that dirty slide driven ‘Black beast of a guitar’ leaving everyone wanting more after a short break.
The second set was full of percussive distorted music that is the signature of Mr Arcari and his guitar, a singer songwriter who stands out in a crowd with his ability to tell a tale that shapes around the music. Cherry Wine is always a favourite of mine a highlight of his Whisky In My Blood album with the added value today of his fantastic stomp box that really adds to the live solo act. This was followed by Devil’s Left Hand that he played for the first time when opening for Steve Earle who famously wrote Devil’s Right Hand. Also from the album of the same title we heard Hangman’s Blues and Texacalli Waltz; a hard arsed fu***d up blues as he waltz’s with his black demon of a guitar; perfect synergy.
His music is eclectic a variety of styles and his playing really suits Mississippi Hill Country music and a tribute to Cedell Davis, which had his own distinctive guitar style closed the evening See Me Laughing leaving everyone wanting some more. We had the encore with the beast where he got off the stage close up to the audience, no amplification, no leads, no effects with a memorable version of Dust My Broom, a wonderful end to a great night of live music incorporating jamming with the audience and the stepping up on stage for some stylish harp playing from Christian Presse on Walkin’ Blues.
Tonight, as ever he delivered his two sets in his usually infectiously energetic way, punctuated with his amusing anecdotes and thoughts of a travelling musician, above all though it is the combination of his voice one moment loud and raucous with punk blues guitar work and then he shows the gentler side and what a marvelous voice he has. He is the entertainer who does what he does enjoying every note refusing to conform as he shares his energetic In-Your-Face Blues of the most honest type the authentic sound of Dave Arcari a Ronseal – Marmite Performer. He plays one of the best sounding steel guitars I have ever heard for me the man in black can’t pay too much of his black beast and the louder the better.
Set 1 Set 2
Dreamt I was 0ne Hundred Stagolee
Travelling Man Homesick & Blue
Cotton on My Back Cherry Wine
I Went To America Devils’ Left Hand
Still Friends Another Chance
Parcel of Rogues Bring my Baby Back
Whisky in my Blood Can’t Be Satisfied
Preachin’ Blues Hangman’s Blues
Trouble in Mind Texicalli Waltz
No Easy Way Close to the Edge
Got Me Electric See Me Laughing
Blue Train Good Friend Blues
Walkin’ Blues (Encore)