ROBERT JON & THE WRECK, LAURA EVANS

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Robert Jon & The Wreck - "Waiting For Your Man" - Official Music Video
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This was the eleventh night of a twelve-night UK tour, where the quintet from Southern California have been entertaining the fans with their joyous brand of Blues, Soul and Southern Rock.

ROBERT JON & THE WRECK, LAURA EVANS
Leeds Brudenell Venue – May 19th 2022

Eight months to the day, I returned to gig-going following the enforced hiatus due to COVID. The first show back was Robert Jon & The Wreck at the Brudenell Venue in Leeds, and here we are again. That night, there were approximately two hundred fans in attendance, but this evening, with a growing confidence to venture out, it had increased to circa three to three hundred and fifty.

Talented guitarist Joe Coombs strolled onto stage, picked up his guitar, sat on a chair and started strumming away on the old six-string. For all intents and purposes, he could have just been a roadie; however, he was soon joined by the striking blonde Laura Evans. Then the lady started singing, and wow, what a voice! The opening salvo of ‘Solo’ and ‘Fire With Fire’, not only highlighted her terrific range, but also her excellent songwriting abilities. Next followed a laudable cover of Country legend Chris Stapleton’s ‘Arkansas’. For those who’ve seen the hit TV series ‘Nashville’, this was like watching Scarlett and Gunner in the Bluebird.

Evans introduced ‘Fool’ as someone who had made her feel stupid, warning the audience of dating a songwriter, as they will always write about their exes (I wonder if Adele and Taylor Swift have thought about that…). At the end of the song, she thanked the crowd for being so quiet, saying, “You don’t know how appreciative it is for a singer-songwriter to have the room so quiet.”

‘Gone’ (the lady likes her one-word song titles), inspired by a Netflix show of a girl on the run was followed by the superb ‘State Of Mind’, the title-track of the forthcoming new album. I cannot remember enjoying and unknown (to me) artist quite so much. New album pre-ordered.

Setlist: Solo / Fire With Fire / Arkansas / Fool / Gone / State Of Mind

This was the eleventh night of a twelve-night UK tour, where the quintet from Southern California have been entertaining the fans with their joyous brand of Blues, Soul and Southern Rock. Due to the limited number of seats available, I found myself right at the front of the stage, looking up at guitar wizard Henry James.

The Wreck took to the stage first, before being joined by singer/guitarist and frontman Robert Jon Burisson. If you ever wondered about the calibre of the musicians in this band, keyboard player Steve Maggiora has recently returned from playing with Toto in The States (not a gig you get if you’re not at the top of your game). He, along with the tight rhythm section of Warren Murrel (bass) and Andrew Espantman (drums), plus Henry James also provided superb backing vocals throughout the evening. The sound and mix were both excellent throughout, as were the passionate gravelly vocals of Burrison.

‘Do You Remember’ has a real Allman Brothers feel and featured an extended solo by Henry James at the end, the first of many that proliferated the whole set. At the end of ‘Hey Hey Mama’, drummer Espantman enthusiastically thanked the whole crowd, recognising several faces who had been to be more than one show on the tour. The Soul-infused ‘Everyday’ was one of many highlights.

For a school-night there was great atmosphere within The Brudenell, highlighted by the crowd participation during ‘Oh Miss Carolina’, which got even louder during the fan favourite, ‘Tired Of Drinking Alone’. ‘The Death Of Me’ featured not one, but two incredible solos by Henry James, the first decreasing in volume (beautifully appreciated by the crowd who kept silent); the second a fret-blistering one. The ten-minute plus instrumental ‘Witchcraft’ (only the second time to date, played on the current tour) allowed the band to have a jam session that blended several styles, including Hard Rock, Prog Rock and Southern Rock.

One of their older songs, ‘Blame It on The Whiskey’, preceded the newest single ‘Waiting For Your Man’, a catchy rocker that bodes well for the next opus to be released, whilst main set closer ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ had The Brudenell bouncing. Tonight’s encore was a sensational, near fifteen-minute rendition of ‘Cold Night’, their ‘Free Bird’; by the end of the track, you thought James’ fret was going to self-combust!


Mark Donnelly

Photos: David Pickles

Setlist: She’s A Fighter / Do You Remember / Hey Hey Mama / Everyday / Oh Miss Carolina / Tired Of Drinking Alone / Death Of Me / instrumental / Blame It On The Whiskey/ Waiting For Your Man / Old Friend / Shine A Light On Me Brother

Encore: Cold Night

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