Eric Bibb – National Concert Hall – Live Review – 10-08-17
You have to have a lot of charisma to get away with wearing yellow shoes with blue socks but Eric made it look easy. A pink shirt, grey suit and hat finished the look. Bibb is now 65 years old but would pass for considerably younger. He arrived on stage at 8 pm to much excitement. He had a story to tell, one of many on the night. He talked about a woman he met in the car park on the way in, and the song she requested. He wasn’t going to play ‘Connected’, but as she asked him nicely. Whether it was true or not, he made her night! He played a version along with guitarist Michael Jerome Browne. The two other members of the band joined them for the rest of the set; Paul Robinson on drums, and Neville Malcolm on bass. The next song was Silver Spoon, which he described as autobiographical.
‘I left my home as a young man, still a boy truth be told.
Took my guitar, my troubled heart and hit the road’ – Silver Spoon
The night featured a number of covers from his ‘heroes and sheroes’; his favourites from yesteryear. The first to feature was ‘Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad’, a song written by Henry Whitter. Later in the set we would get songs by Lead Belly including ‘Bring Me Li’l Water Silvy’ and ‘Stewball’, which featured on his album Lead Belly’s Gold from 2015. Stewball is the story of a remarkable racehorse that preferred wine to water, and is also a name his wife calls him on occasion! The first time Eric heard Blind Reverend Gary Davis play, he was only 15 years old. He played a version of ‘I Heard the Angels Singing’ which would have made the Reverend proud.
Turner Station told the story of migrant black workers leaving the fields and travelling to work in Steel mills. Migration was a theme for the evening and his new album ‘Migration Blues’ tells the story of many migrants, whether they are black workers in the great migration or refugees in war torn countries of recent times.
Eric recently visited West Africa for the first time, an event he saw as a home coming of sorts. He couldn’t sleep the night before he left, so he picked up a guitar and wrote the song ‘On My Way to Bamako’ which featured late in the set. The final few tracks of the night, he requested the audience to sing and clap along on songs like ‘New World Comin’ Through’ and ‘Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down’.
He’s a dazzling guitar player with a warm and welcoming personality which made the hour and a half in his company pass very quickly. Songs like ‘Turner Station’ and ‘Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down’ were the highlights of the night. With the deaths of many of the greats over the past few years, the number of proper blues singers seems to constantly decrease. We should learn to appreciate the ones we have while they’re here. Eric is certainly one of those.
Set List –
2. Silver Spoon
3. Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad (Henry Whitter cover)
4. Turner Station
5. Bring Me Li’l Water Silvy (Lead Belly cover)
7. With My Maker
8. Refugee Moan
9. On My Way to Bamako (Habib Koité & Eric Bibb cover)
10. With a Dolla’ in My Pocket
11. I heard the Angels Singing
12. New World Comin’ Through
13. Needed Time
14. Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down
I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground ([traditional] cover)
Eric’s Heroes –
Lead Belly – Stewball
Blind Gary Davis – I Heard the Angels Singing live