Introductions, notices of pending shows took a short time, then the band took the stage. The house was full. The band was composed of the following musicians: John Mayall from Manchester, England on keyboard, guitar, harp, vocals – Rocky Athas from Dallas Texas on guitar – Greg Rzab from Chicago on Bass – Jay Davenport from Chicago on drums.
John’s hair has gone white, he wears it medium long, and wore it this night in a ponytail, he was wearing green plaid shirt and jeans. Others in the band were dressed similarly, in a casual way.
Stage and gear:
- John was at front center stage behind a keyboard,
- the drummer just behind him – Jay played a dark purple set of Pearl drums
- bass to his right – Greg played what looked like a Fender jazz bass
- guitar to his left – Rocky played a sunburst Les Paul through a red knob Fender Twin, also an unusual choice (may have been a rental) .
- John played one of his trademark minimalist guitars, the body just large enough to support pickups and bridge, using a Roland jazz chorus amp; played harp through his vocal mic (both these choices are somewhat unusual).
1st Nothing to do With Love
2nd May Dell
3rd Dirty Water
4th so many roads by Otis Rush
5th long gone midnight from blues for Laurel Canyon
6th Oh pretty woman Albert King
7th gimme one more day
8th Chicago Line from 1st album
9th you know that you love me
11:05 – 1 hour 20 minutes, standing O, 1 encore
The approach was more about presenting songs than a showcase for chops, though when called for, chops were present in spades. Rocky’s amp sounded hard and bright to me at first, but his unerring touch and taste had me setting aside my concerns and just enjoying his playing. Greg and Jay were mostly in supporting roles throughout, but when they took solos near the end of the show, they showed their reasons for being chosen by John Mayall. Not a lot of stories or banter between songs, but the band clearly enjoyed playing together.
Before playing an encore, John encouraged audience to attend other of his shows, and promised completely different sets for each (he has the history to draw from). He is set to return to Seattle in January for a harmonica blowout.
Mr. Mayall will be 80 years old in November: he, of course, has aged since the days of the Bluesbreakers, but still looks vital. He moved and played and handled himself as a younger man; here’s hoping we have him and his music for a long time yet. I would add: All-in-all, a fine show by a legend in the blues world who is still vital and passionate; if you get a chance to see him, don’t miss it.
Review by Steve Peterson, Laurin Gaudinier for Victory Music
Artist Reviews, Victory Updates