The 4 score and 3 year Bluesbreaker has more energy than artists half of the age of his corns, as John Mayall played electric piano, Hammond organ, guitar and harmonica as well as singing in amazingly strong voice with his longtime team of Chicago sidemen, Greg Rzab/b and Jay Davenport/dr. The evening included material as recent as his latest album Talk About That to his earliest days over a half century ago, and every hue of blue was delivered in the acoustically adroit Broad Stage Theatre.
From his current file, original “Talk About That” had him on the Roland piano with the teammates supplying a funky backbeat, while the vintage Jimmy Rogers tune “Goin’ Away Baby” had a rural South Side feel that was as tasty as Pizzeria Uno. Davenport shuffled the boogie on a rollicking “Don’t Deny Me” with Mayall having the Hammond splash chords like kids jumping in puddles. Lazy and relaxed tones drifted like smoke rings during “Driftin’ Blues” as Mayall supplied spacious notes like stars in the sky. Mayall then pulled out his harp and growled like a ravenous wolf on “Parchman Farm” and howled like the wind off of Lake Michigan.
Strapping on his own homemade guitar, the trio produced a swampy Memphis stew during “Moving Out and Movin’ On” and while on his rocking “Nature’s Disappearing” from the 70s his guitar playing may not have you forgotten his alumni such as Clapton, Green and Taylor, he got the job done, and done well indeed.
His closing theme was the timeless anthem to his adopted home state, as “California” delivered jazzy indigo grooves with Davenport’s lithe pulse, Rzab’s relentless bass lick and Mayall adding some hip vibe sounds while everyone got to stretch out a bit before ending the show with the harmonica stampede of “ Room To Move.” The blues were brewing, indeed, and Mayall is the last living member of its Mount Rushmore.
On a side note, I’ve seen Mayall almost half a dozen time the past few years, and only a couple songs have ever been repeated. The grooves, chords and attitude are all the same; only the titles and lyrics have been changed to protect the innocent.
Upcoming shows at The Broad Stage include Bettye Lavette 09/28, Stanley Clarke 10/14 and Hiromi 11/13