The Muni is back open for gigs. The crowds outside just show how popular the venue still is and the two acts on tonight Sari Schorr and The Engine Room opening for the mighty Walter Trout. Whenever Sari Schorr steps on a stage she brings a vibrant dramatic energy. What a voice! What a band that surrounds her! As the Blues Flowed up the Taff with Walter Trout Tonight.
Sari Schorr, the perfect act to warm up the crowded venue. Always a dramatic performer she delivered today with her unique interpretation of the blues. The music and energy are modern the story behind the numbers is true to the traditions of the blues. The set of eight tracks many from her critically acclaimed album Force of Nature combined with classy covers. Having the sensational Innes Sibun on guitar gives the band depth and feel. Tonight he was playing a Wudtone, a guitar made by a local company. He laid on every layer of tonal quality and texture from the innovative hand-built guitar. As the crowds lapped up the virtuoso guitar playing The Engine Room ensure that Sari will always stand out from the crowd with her amazing vocal range and control. The inclusion of Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll gave Innes the chance to have lots of fun. This is blues jamming that will always animate an audience hungry for live music.
Sari’s own numbers have deep lyrics reflecting her own experiences and hardships. She explores the love of her Pit Bulls. Numbers about the power of addiction, opening with Ain’t Got No Money about greed, addiction to money and later on Aunt Hazel and heroin addiction. Closing the set with the Leadbelly number she has made her signature song Black Betty. As the set closed the audience was left breathless, invigorated and the magic of live music bringing us all together.
Short break and the applause was rapturous before a note was played as Walter Trout stepped onto the stage. As ever Walter the great showman held the audience in the palm of his hand as his cream Fender Strat took us into the world of Walter’s Blues. Opening with the Johnny Winter classic I’m A Bluesman, the tone, mood and vibe were set. Walter can fit more notes into a crescendo with skill and timing to makes his guitar leap out and grab your ears. Walter Trout is not about fast and furious for the sake of it. He plays with passion, control with changes in tempo and feel. He is from his heart and inner soul the consummate man of the blues. Demonstrated with a slow blues number in A minor. What a wonderful version of the mighty Albert Collin’s Cold Cold Feeling. Under Walter’s dexterous fingers he magic’s up a pure connection to the original whilst making this a pure gold classic Walter playing live moment.
Walter let the guitar do the talking as the band played, no set list this was going with the flow of the evening. With a short introduction about his latest album, We’re All In This Together with a phalanx of guest friends from the world of modern blues. Tonight the guest was Innes Sibun rather than stepping into Joe Bonamassa shoes. Now a five-piece with two lead guitarists fireworks were promised and delivered, with a waterfall of shimmering blues fire. Trout & Sibun tonight gave a spirited battle of guitars which was absolutely captivating. Superb live music. The venue was now hot with blues. As Innes left the stage he was replaced by Sari. The obvious number was Walter Trout’s Work No More. The number was on Sari’s album with Walter guesting. The chemistry between the guitar and vocals was intense. Once again Andrew Ent joined Walter on the stage the power of his vocals rocked the rafters of the Muni.
Two of the numbers tonight were influenced by women in his life, His first wife with an old number as Walter explored the songs from his vast discography spanning twenty-eight albums. The most moving number of the evening was Please Take me Home. The only number taken from Battle Scars. His heartfelt joy of being alive and how much he owes to the donor and the gritty determination of his wife Marie through the ordeal. The acoustic guitar from Andrew Elt made the number dramatic, poignant an emotional journey Walter and his family have been on.
His band was not left out as drummer Micheal Leasure was given the spotlight demonstrating what a powerhouse he is behind the music. Stepping out front was keyboardist Sammy Avila and his son Danny on Bass. The bass was deep with the strings bending under his will the Muni was rocking.
Throughout the set on every number Walter Trout was on top form, he fed off the audience and the audience gave back. This is blues that stirs your heart as everyone connects through the sound of live music.
Walter loves playing in Wales, with a few Welsh words he had the crowd roaring as he said, Cymru am byth. ( Long Live Wales). Once again as he did at the Tramshed last year he was fulsome in his praise for Wales’ forward thinking regarding Organ donation. In Wales, you have to opt out rather than opting into organ donation.
He left the stage the lights dimmed. The audience roared, taking up the chant Walter, Walter. In this heat, Walter returned to tumultuous applause for one more number. For me one of the many highlights of the evening was Prisoner of Dreams, capturing the life of a homeless woman and the words that have been washed away. No one wanted the night to end. Come back soon Walter, there will always be a warm welcome in the Valleys.
For many, the definition of Blues is playing with feeling. Tonight Walter, his band and guests all capture the feel. The River Taff flowed with the blues tonight in Pontypridd.