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Joe Louis Walker - 100 Club, London (UK) - 16 January 2018

Electric Blues & Funky Gospel from the legendary style-creator Joe Louis Walker.

"Everybody wants a piece" of Joe Louis Walker – the multi Blues Music Award winner and Blues Hall Of Fame inductee came all the way from San Francisco to the 100 Club in London to promote his new album 'Everybody Wants A Piece' and hit a full house there.

Before the show started I was lucky enough to meet him outside briefly. You immediately know who he is; his remarkable charisma and look is unmistakable and so is his show which was a groovy mix of Electric Blues & Funky Gospel.


Joe Lewis Walker - Live 1

This was shown with the first song 'Not Messing Around'. Bassist Lenny Bradford introduced the rest of the band with Steve on piano, Bryon Cage on drums and Joe Louis Walker on vocals and guitar. Then Bradford kicked in with his rhythmical bass that got the crowd dancing straight away. There was immediately a connection between the audience and the band, as their good mood and energy transmitted to us.


Joe Lewis Walker - Live 2

Changing the beat into slow Blues with the second song 'In The Morning', Walker set a statement as to why NPR Music called him "a legendary boundary-pushing icon of Modern Blues". He faced his amp to create those remarkable, scratching sounds that makes him the brand that he is. It was pure instrumental with a great dynamical build up! What was really impressive was, apart from his technical skills obviously, Walker had a very unique style in playing, where you felt his influences like B.B. King but also mixed with some Psychedelic Rock sounds. Just at the right moment, Steve took over with an awesome organ solo. During the keyboard or guitar solo the performance of the band was incredibly professional, they created enough space to lift up the solo parts and you could really feel how the instruments melted within each other. Even during a slow Blues song, the dynamical performance was strong enough and thus kept the crowd moving.


Joe Lewis Walker - Live 3

Next up, Walker talked about his background in Gospel music where he met lots of heroes, which included The Jordanairs, who provided backing vocals for Elvis Presley. 'Don't Let Go' started with a great harmony section and flowed into a Rock 'n' Roll groove that combined with an engaging Gospel vibe to sing along with. It was an unusual but interesting mix of styles and that kept the excitement of each song high. Just like Gospel should, Walker set the highlight towards the end of the song with some stunning power vocals that ably showed what a universal talent he is.

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Walker turned sixty last Christmas, but you could only see this in his great musical experience that has developed this unique talent – his spirit, however, has remained young. When he was a kid, he sang 'Wade In The Water' in the church. He has since turned this song into a cool re-mix of his own interpretation with a funky groove that's combined with great harmonies. Meaningful lyrics like "The water is deep, the water is cold, it chills my body, but not my soul" are what makes Walker stand out. He has that fresh, driven energy, but due to his skills he already has the status of a legend.


Joe Lewis Walker - Live 4

This argument was enhanced with the next song, a cover of The Beatles' 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', that has been changed into a slow rhythm and intimate mood offering with barely anything, only his incredible soft voice and a recognisable bass line. For the first time, you could hear the diversity in his voice – from soft to powerful, chest to head voice – and no matter what he did on guitar or with his vocals, he seemed to be so into the song and presented a high-skilled performance, and yet he still had that charming calmness. The power came back towards the end of the song when drummer Cage perfectly kicked in with a double beat as Walker played some powerful Rock guitar that reminded of Led Zeppelin.


Joe Lewis Walker - Live 5

With 'Soldier For Jesus', an engaging up-tempo Soul/Gospel song, Walker again took us on a journey back to his roots, before the following song, 'Back In Blue', changed genre to a Psychedelic Rock number à la Pink Floyd. Next, he introduced harmonica player Charles Rose who smashed it on 'One Sunny Day', a standard 12-bar Blues selection, before the band brought back the dance mood with the Rock 'n' Roll groove of 'Too Drunk To Drive Drunk' where they let the audience sing-along with the lyrics "I was too drunk to drive home this time". It was supposed to be the last song, but of course, no one would have left Walker and his band without an encore because it was a fantastic night with a presentation of his diverse influences and a unique mixture of genres, as well as the finest live performance from the whole band and a great energy on stage. Just when you thought you had seen all possible variations from him, he did an encore where he was all alone on stage with his guitar as he sang an Acoustic Gospel song entitled 'Don't Let Go'. It was a good way to end the evening – calm and engaging.


Joe Lewis Walker - Live 6

Walker is a brand setter. There are no rules to his Blues music; he combines whatever he feels and feeling is something that he stands for. He transferred his emotion and could lift us up with an energetic Rock 'n' Roll number then make us emotional with a soulful number. The variation of genres kept the excitement high throughout the whole show. It was Blues combined with Funk, Gospel, Soul, Rock 'n' Roll and Psychedelic Rock. Joe Louis Walker is famous and has been rewarded for not only his incredible skills and talent, but also his remarkably unique style. We were all witnesses to his driven energy and creativity this night, and we can only stay excited and hope to get more pieces of him soon.

Review by Cheri Lyn, photos by Laurence Harvey

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