Eric Gales @Newcastle The Cluny, June 6 2022
A self-reflective deep dive into an addiction-fuelled past.
A refusal to hold back on the issue of racial prejudice.
The heartfelt tribute to his inspirational wife.
Joe Bonamassa bantz.
And a few words of pigeon Geordie to get the locals on side.
This monumental show had it all.
Oh, and don’t forget the music.
Thought this gig was going to be all about the blues?
Eric Gales is as much a mouthpiece for biting social commentary as he’s a musician rapidly ascending to the top of his game.
And the endearing 47-year-old enraptured a Cluny crowd immediately in thrall to the charismatic Memphis native.
Gales’ delight at being clean and sober drew warm applause.
His missive on Black Lives Matters was both heartfelt and affecting.
Nobody could deny the deep love and respect he has for wife and band mate LaDonna.
And Tyneside’s blues brothers (and sisters) loved the playful poke at big pal Bonamassa — replete with Gales’ steely declaration that he’s coming for Joe’s Royal Albert Hall throne.
Given the quality and consistency underpinning latest long player Crown, such burning ambition is hardly misplaced.
Crowning glory underpins special show
Quite rightly, the beaming main man devoted more than half of his steepling 90-minute set to that game changer of a record.
Produced by Bonamassa and paced by a succession of soulful blues classics, Crown is head and shoulders above Gales’ previous work.
It’s the glorious culmination of a difficult journey from teenage prodigy to the new father figure of a fast-evolving proto-blues scene.
And it takes on a whole new life in the live arena.
A marvellous, meandering take on the inspirational Stand Up featured a stunning keys solo by Jonathan Lovett.
And the thunderous thrust of Survivor is all the more powerful when enjoyed up close and personal in the company of a gritty Gales.
You Don’t Know The Blues could be seen as a hurtful accusation in any other setting.
But Gales knows his audience and, two songs into this Newcastle show, it was clear they really, really did.
My Own Best Friend is a magnificent exercise in searing honesty and brutal self-awareness.
And yet on a triumphant Tyneside night, the raucous rallying call that is I Want My Crown best encapsulated Gales’ glorious victory stroll.
Earlier, special guest Dom Martin dazzled with his mix of growling vocals and dextrous fretwork.
Rory Gallagher reincarnated?
But if Martin was just a little miffed that his laudable take on Laundromat drew the warmest applause of the night then the multiple UK Blues Awards winner needn’t worry.
Latest album A Savage Life is proof positive that there’s much more to this affable Irishman than the odd carefully considered cover.