Gary Clark Jr at Electric BallroomCultureMusicLive music
Recognised globally for his virtuosic guitar playing and strong mastery of various musical styles (from rock and blues to funk and hip-hop), Texas-born guitarist and actor Gary Clark Jr charged the Electric Ballroom in Camden with a heavy dose of sonic voltage.
Clark Jr played his solid Texas blues roots to his strengths in the opener Bright Lights, an old favourite from his 2012 album Blak and Blu. Clark Jr showed no nerves as he ignited the stage with his volcanic guitar presence, full of jarring distortion and warped effects. Backed by a robust rhythm section, Bright Lights had all the core elements of a captivating anthem loaded with blues-inflections. Just as the crowd were excited enough, When My Train Pulls In proved to be a memorable highlight as the endless but powerful guitar solo filtered with masses of distortion blasted the packed venue with a fierce gust of noise that screamed a statement of intent: this is old-school testosterone-driven rock.
The night also saw a couple of numbers from his latest album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim. With warm soul-accented guitar chords and falsetto vocal timbres, Hold On was a chance for Clark Jr and his entourage to sidestep from the high-octane opening exchanges and showcase his love for seductive soul and jazz suaveness, as well as making the usual mark with his signature guitar solos. Similarly, Our Love shined in sultry rhythmic and harmonic progressions that would exist in parallel with the soulful essence of Marvin Gaye. On the other hand, the jumbling beats of Shake was an intense shot of American bluesy “jukebox”-fueled at its finest.
After the last two offerings Grinder and The Healing revived Clark Jr’s blues rock origins with pounding beats and blues-filled harmonic sensations, the Texas guitarist drew the final curtain with an encore that included Church, which took the night into a tranquil African-American flavour married with a country folk harmonica and guitar backdrop.
Under a gloomy and drizzly autumn night in London, Gary Clark Jr and his dedicated band were like a fireplace; their kaleidoscopic musical palette combined the crunchy voices of blues-rock with the alluring ambience of soul vibes.
Photos: Melissa Harper
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Watch the video for The Healing here: