Chickenfoot / Red, White & Blues Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 18, 2012    
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Chickenfoot / Red, White & Blues – Manchester Academy, Manchester (UK) - 14th January 2012

For reasons best known to themselves, the promoters who brought over Chickenfoot for their first UK non-London show decided to put them on at the Academy, resulting in tickets selling out in a couple of days and brisk business being done on eBay and outside the venue. Not that that should bother Red, White & Blues - the new enterprise of Skin guitarist Myke Gray and former Jagged Edge bandmate Matti Alfonzetti - as they had a large captive audience from the moment they hit the stage with the infectious 'Shame, Shame'. For fans of Skin and, particularly, Jagged Edge, RW&B may be just a little bit too near the bluesy end of rock, but along with The Union and Vintage Trouble there seems to be a mini-movement going on for those who appreciate a bit more soul and groove in their music. Alfonzetti, as well as playing bass in this band, has the perfect soulful edge in his voice, and the band confidently won over a good number in the crowd with the feelgood blues of 'Set My Sights On You', 'Let It Shine' and 'Stand Up For Rock 'n' Roll'.

Unlike seemingly the rest of the world, I'm not overly sold on Chickenfoot's two albums. The latest 'III' opus is certainly a big improvement on the debut, but on the whole the songs come over as well-organised jams rather than great songwriting, but where the band undoubtedly score the highest is in the live arena. As the band launch into 'Lighten Up' the chemistry is immediately obvious, bassist Michael Anthony and singer Sammy Hagar were meant to be onstage together, and whilst Joe Satriani is a completely different kind of performer to the other front two, his contribution to the sound is immense. In fact, as the likes of 'Alright Alright', 'Big Foot' and the groovy 'Sexy Little Thing' prove to be great crowd pleasers, as a long time Satriani aficionado I can't believe how loud and gritty his guitar sound is, it's completely different from his usual tone and takes a lot of getting used to.

The main downside to the set is the poor sound afforded stand-in drummer Kenny Aaronoff, who despite being a monster player and undoubtedly a better drummer than Chad Smith, gets lost completely in the mix and never really breaks through the wall of sound created by guitar and bass. You can't help be entertained by Hagar as his ad-libbed stage raps keep the fans smiling throughout, be it asking for opinions on his frequently changing shirts or debating the relative merits of the beers he's been left on the drum riser. After Theakston's Old Peculiar wins out over John Smiths, the band continue with 'Soap On A Rope', 'Up Next', 'My Kinda Girl' and 'Down The Drain', each building an atmosphere that's quite unusual for the sterile Academy. I'm afraid 'Three And A Half Letters' isn't one of my favourites from the latest album but the narrative does work quite well here, and Satriani continues to shine with some amazing stuff through 'Something Going Wrong', 'Turnin' Left' and odd set closer 'Future In The Past'.

The noisily demanded encore starts with the obvious current single, 'Different Devil', one of their most tuneful offerings, before the basic 'Oh Yeah' gives way to a startlingly good version of the Hendrix classic 'Foxy Lady', which has the crowd singing along more loudly than any of their own songs did. Sound issues aside it was a lively and enjoyable two hours by four people who obviously love what they're doing. No backing tapes, no triggers and no samples, just an honest to goodness rock and roll show.

Phil Ashcroft


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