Tony Joe White, Manchester Gorilla"This one is by Tony Joe White, it's one of his songs called As The Crow Flys, hope you enjoy it".
So said Rory Gallagher on his mesmeric Irish tour 74 album. An album more than most that got me into so much blues music including a certain Mr Tony Joe White. Now 71 last years Hoodoo is one of my favorite blues albums of the last 20 years so a trip to Manchester on a Tuesday night to see him live was grabbed and relished.
Four of us for this, a pint in the Grove and Salisbury just round the corner from the fab Gorilla venue and we were in just in time to see the man.
Seated, sunglasses, brushed back grey black hair bunched behind and underneath the rim of a leather Sowester. This is a look only a bloke who has done it can get away with. Anyone else just looks a tosser.
A pin sharp drummer behind him keeping impeccable understated time, sometimes leading sometimes supporting but always on it was his only accompaniment. My idea of a perfect drummer. Its all he needed.
He still has a lovely deep bluesy drawl that resonates. He wrote polk salad Annie as made famous by Elvis but for me his version his much better. Most of the set was made up of the album I mentioned earlier. A collection of blues grooves that seem to rise from the swamps and seep into your world. Simple picking of his fender strat occasionally jumping from treacly slightly distorted tone into smashing wah wah supplemented his vocal. Nothing too fancy but wonderfully judged. There was a slight detour of journey when he played "Rainy night in Georgia" giving that brilliant song a perfect sense of relaxed resignation and quiet defiance. Something I've not really picked up before when I've heard the song. He seemed to give it a less desperate feel and a greater embrace of everything the world throws at you. He should know how it goes though, he wrote the fooker.
Just over a hour but a great example of enough is enough, the man is in his seventies after all. He encored with steamy windows, which he also wrote. Thanks for making the miles worthwhile he said to a hugely appreciative crowd. Thanks for everything i thought.