Eric Gales & guest Danny Bryant: Concorde in Brighton 23 March 2022:
Not one but two top blues guitarists! The legendary Eric Gales and guest top Blues man Danny Bryant. A special, unique night. Read all about it.
Eric Gales (born October 29, 1974), also known as Raw Dawg, is an American blues rock guitarist, originally hailed as a child prodigy. As of 2019, Gales has recorded eighteen albums for major record labels and has done session and tribute work. He has also contributed vocals on several records by the Memphis rap groups Prophet Posse and Three 6 Mafia under the name Lil E.
Gales picked up the guitar at age four. His older siblings, Eugene and Manuel (Little Jimmy King), taught him songs and licks when he was young, in the style of Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, B.B. King and others. In 1985, the young Gales began to play at blues competitions with his brother Eugene backing him on bass. Although Gales plays a right-handed guitar “upside-down” (with the bass E string on the bottom), he is not naturally left-handed; he was taught by his brother, who is left-handed, and never second-guessed the untraditional technique.
Eric Gales: The Set
Gales and his band took to the stage in near pitch black, the only sound was the hissing of the smoke machine. Suddenly I think every white light on the stage light rig was switched on, it was bright and the band were lost totally in the swirling fog.
Death Of Me – Smokestack Lightning – You Don’t Know The Blues – The Storm
OK, lets get some of the superlatives out of the way for this man and his guitar right off the bat! Stunning, super, awesome, gifted, talented, genius, creative and inventive. There you are go, just a few words to describe Eric Gales. Oh yes one more, Blues!
Also before going any further, let’s talk about that bass! Stunning playing from Smoke Face! Masked for the set was the bass player looking a bit like the villain in the bond move “Time To Die” and a character from the Squid Games series. At times smoke poured from the players mask and from behind. An extraordinary spectacle, and some great bass playing!
Stand Up – Put It Back – Take Me As I Am – Crown – My Own Best Friend
The guitar started up in a true Gales blues rock and roll style for Death Of Me. I can pretty much guarantee it will be hard to drop the grin off your face when you see and hear this beauty played live. The playing was intricate and fast-fingered. This is from Gales new album The Crown.
Eric told us Joe Bonamassa claimed that he was: “one of the best, if not the best in the world,” with praise and comments like that you really do need to pay attention and listen to this extraordinary bluesman.
Another blues rocker Smokestack Lightning was next. Full shout to the band, you were brilliant and everybody up there seemed to be having a good time. Two drum kits, keys, bass and the maestro himself. The smoke did a pretty good job at obscuring the drummers which is always a shame. I love being able to watch all the musicians. A photo taker from the USA was in the pit and he was given a quick run down on the lighting and smoke mix! He thanked me and changed his settings.
You Don’t Know The Blues was up. A stunning version performed live. I stood, almost hypnotised at the dexterity of the fingers working on the frets. The sound was incredible. Every track played for us tonight was a blues masterclass guitar lesson.
Sea Of Bad Blood – Too Close To The Fire
Gales would stop from time to time, he explained The Storm “How can you love what I do but hate who I am”. It’s a song raising questions about racism back home, and everywhere else. He did say folk in the UK were “pretty dope”. This was met with a cheer. This set was bubbling along nicely. It was oozing with rich sounding quality and originality. The Blues tunes smoked along with those keys, guitar and one very tight rhythm section.
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Gales’ virtuoso guitar talents would come to a halt and he would open up about his past substance abuse, and early life. He said he really shouldn’t have made it. Tears welling up in his eyes and running down his face whilst digging in to those personal reflections and memories. He told us he had been 6 years “dry”. Here was a man in front of us, truly grateful to be standing in front of us. His insights shared throughout the night are intimate and ultimately moving.
Stand Up has an almost church/gospel feel to it, full of soulful tones and beauty. His vocals are moving and yes at times truly heartfelt, he easily filled Concorde 2 with his voice. He launched into a smooth guitar solo for this one, it was stunning! I wanted more, and we all got it as the set moved along.
Gales can do it all, delivering a sharp rocker that urges your feet to move. The slower tempo songs will plant you feet to the ground as you listen. The rock and blues combination can always include an uplifting chorus, which many people in the crowd got stuck into. Layer on top of those lyrics some really intense and brilliant guitar riffs, and you have a magnificent sounding output. This was a really strong set, with a real feeling of triumph and being there tonight from Mr Gales.
Oh, did I mention LaDonna Gales was on a percussion set? I had met Charlie Harper, from the UK SUBS in the bar area, he is a massive Blues fan and we enjoyed the set whilst chatting about the sublime sounds. He had pre advised that LaDonna Gales, Erics wife, would sometimes joins him on tour. It was a real surprise as she appeared at the start and then emerging from the smoke to join in on Take Me Just As I Am.
Then we had a fine slice of a smooth and jazzy number My Own Best Friend. This was a brilliant way to head towards the end of the set.
The set closed with Too Close To The Fire. We had been given a great selection of Gales material tonight, but I think he was quite rightly concentrating on his new album.
The gig was came to its close with a combination of a Jimi Hendrix track Voodoo Chile and rounded off with an encore of Swamp. You will need to see this man live to get the full idea on that last selection. No spoilers here. Put simply it was the ultimate crescendo from the man on stage. He makes that guitar do anything he wants and it always sounds spot on. He and his band left the stage and the audience to a deafening extended round of applause.
Voodoo Chile – Swamp
He bared his soul for us tonight sharing his intimate thoughts and feelings, at times tears running down his face. He provided us with an incredibly energetic, enthusiastic, passionate and mesmerising performance in Brighton. And it was the first night of the tour, no nerves on display for this gig!
At the start of the night Eric said he was gonna play for us for a full on 90 minute set. Someone shouted from the crowd “how about 2 hours?” Eric smiled and nodded in agreement. He over ran by 20 minutes – so he was damn close to the 2 hours! I think he would have played on for more if he could have done! This was the first night of a full UK tour, and I must advise that this really is an awesome must-see gig!! If you don’t go, and you love this style of music you will kick yourself!
Thank you Eric Gales and also your super talented band. Eric Gales can be found out there here.
Support for Eric Gales was from guitarist/vocalist Danny Bryant and his band. They set about showcasing some eight songs for us.
Danny Bryant (born 26 July 1980) is an English blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. He was born and grew up in Royston, Hertfordshire, England. At the age of 15, he began playing the guitar and became a professional guitar player at the age of 18. Since then he has toured all over the world and appeared on bills alongside a number of notable artists such as Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana, Joe Cocker and Mick Taylor. That’s quite a line up!
Danny Bryant offered up a full on blast rock and blues show. He had the crowd on board from the off. His at times howling/wailing guitar and some stunning, effortless, extended soloing rules supreme here. He played us an eight song set tonight backing it all up with a really impressive live performance. He, and his band, mixed it up with that overall blues style incorporating input from hard blues/rock to a more “time for a slow one?” down tempo, emotional song.
Songs: Heatbreaker – Tired Of Trying – Westport
Danny and the band roll straight up with Heartbreaker a full on rockier blues number held up with some with some pretty mean and hefty fret solo work. I had spotted the set list earlier, but am not overly sure they stuck with the listing running order however!
Bryant’s showmanship is always prevalent as he is constantly looking to get the crowd involved to great effect. With Love Of Angels Bryant slows things down a bit. It is very atmospheric and yes, moody. An extended wonderful guitar solo to finalise the song. The way he built up to that solo spot really grabbed the attention of his audience. This was really good stuff tonight.
Songs: Collins – Bottle Runs Dry – Last Goodbye
Danny and the band deliver on point some lively instrumental stomper highlights loaded with delightful fuzzy riffs. That tempo is maintained by Till The Bottle Runs Dry. Bryant can lay it down with a fierce hook riff or two that just grabs you. They can hit you with a pure and solid 12 bar rock song and with some super Bryant vocals adding power to all the songs played tonight. Danny shows us all, and with out any question of a doubt from me, he is a true master of all styles of blues.
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This set is built with a great song selection, it is wall to wall good solid well controlled blues from beginning to end. His band are so tight and dynamic giving us a confident and solid performance. These guys are clearly musicians at the top of their game. Well played.
Songs: Nine Lives – Love Of Angels.
Currently touring with Eric Gales, this really is a superb night of music, two artists perfectly matched together.
Tonight we all witnessed a true high-quality live performance from Bryant, which perhaps matches and equals the late Rory Gallacher or Gary Moore, or even up there with Joe Bonamassa? I leave you to decide on that one. It was an astonishing set. We all enjoyed every chord, riff soaked second. I hope that he may head back down this way again soon for a full length set. I think he gleaned himself some new fans, me included, tonight.
Thanks to Eric Gales, Danny Bryant, The Gig Cartel and the Brighton and Hove News Music team.
Words: Ian Bourn. Photos: Ian Bourn.
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