Kenny Wayne Shepherd on tour: Holmfirth
The Holmfirth Picturedrome was the perfect venue for the second gig on the brief Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band UK tour. Not too big, not too small and rammed to the rafters with knowledgeable fans, all with a good view plus terrific sound balance. There was a real atmosphere bouncing in the joint and the band seemed to visibly respond.
They started at a hundred miles an hour and only occasionally paused for breath. This is such a tight group of musicians, seriously well rehearsed with great stagecraft but nothing got in the way of the brilliant individual musicianship.
As you would expect, Kenny leads from the front with his astonishing range of guitar skills and styles and the crowd is brilliantly worked by his long-term charismatic singer Noah Hunt. Alongside them, and rock-solid, were bassman Stuart Nelson and drummer Chris Layton, who managed to lock into stride, walking bass lines, skip beats and even dance rhythms without ever missing a beat. Sitting behind a couple of keyboards was Riley Osbourn (ex Willie Nelson) and it was an unusual delight, when the band had segued into a BB King moment, to see them step back and let Riley loose with a classic rolling barrelhouse break which got the audience punching air.
Make no mistake though, the star of the show is Kenny Wayne Shepherd. This is real talent. There is real passion here. A self-taught Louisiana lad who had his very first album go platinum nearly twenty years ago. More recently he was asked by Stephen Stills to join with him and Barry Goldberg to form a 'super group' called The Rides and, almost inevitably, their first album crashed straight into the top of the Billboard listings.
The set for the evening covered a whole range of styles and influences and some stuff from his previous albums and Kenny was pretty clear in his comments to the audience that it was all coming from his roots and most of those roots were the blues. Consequently, it was no surprise that amongst the fast hard blues-rock, he played Elmore James, Johnny Guitar Watson and three back to back BB King numbers, with a flying Noah getting the audience going with a stomping version of 'Done Lost Your Good Thing Now'. A final treat was a re-working of 'Deja Voodoo' from his first album complete with Hendrix riff and – yes - the guitar over the back of the head!
A terrific top-flight classy, passionate band giving a hundred percent. Look Out Glasgow, Aberdeen and London, they are coming your way soon. If they are not already sold out grab a ticket now.