REVIEW: ROBERT CRAY, TOWN HALL BIRMINGHAM, 7/5/2017
Review by Chaz Brooks
One of the world’s pre-eminent blues performers played to a sell-out crowd at Birmingham’s Town Hall.
Backed by a trio of quality American musicians, bassist Richard Cousins, Terence Clark on drums and Dover Weinberg on piano and Hammond organ, Cray produced a slick sixteen track set of versatile and high quality blues. Five tracks coming from his recent release “Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm” and the rest from his extensive back catalogue.
“Phone Booth” from 1983’s Bad Influence album opened the show, with trademark Cray soul-influenced vocals and two sensational guitar solos. Next the opening track from the “Hi Rhythm” album “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh” featuring Weinberg’s Hammond and Clark’s strong drumming.
As ever smartly dressed, Cray has a clean, crisp guitar style exemplified with “I’ll Always Remember You” and “Sadder Days” which according to Cray was a “funky little thing”. Cray brings fun and a funky touch to the blues, and he and the band certainly had a fun time in Birmingham. Keyboardist Weinberg seemed to have a smile on his face all night.
Robert Cray is a consummate professional with a relaxed style and constant friendly banter to the audience inbetween numbers. In the middle of the catchy instrumental “Hip Tight” the band suddenly stopped and Cray and Cousins did the mannequin challenge for about a minute bringing much whooping from the audience.
An encore of “Forecast Calls For Pain” and “Times Makes Two” brought Cray a standing ovation from the enthusiastic Birmingham crowd. Robert Cray always delivers. Pure blues class.