This past month I was able to catch Colin James when he passed through my fair city on tour Ė Colinís latest cd Rooftops and Satellites is up for a number of (Canadian) awards including Blues Recording of the Year and Independent Album of the Year. The weather did not reflect these accolades to say the least Ė my seat was three rows from the front but sadly, still under the stars which were not visible due to the driving, sheet like rain! (Thanks to the two gentlemen behind me Ė looking a lot like ZZ Top, you know who you are Ė who gallantly offered paper towel to sop up the worst from the seat before I quickly sat down Ö)
So when I tell you that it was still worthwhile to sit in that kind of monsoon Ė sans umbrella - to hear and see Colin live, you have to believe that it was a top notch concert experience Ö
Iíve seen Colin James in concert before of course, I try and attend every chance I get since Iíve been a fan for years Ė but I like to think I can still be objective and there is never the sense that he has just come out to take the the chill off the usual material and then he'll be heading home. Like it or not, Colin seems like a genuinely nice guy (he soloed close to a toddler who was on a parentís shoulders and then gently handed his pick over Ė very cool) and frankly, heís never compromised himself musically to try and straddle current trends. Heís a songwriter as well (did I mention that heís nominated for Songwriter of the Year as well?) but mostly, he remains within the blues canon and does it extremely well.
There was some really different material at this concert too Ė I absolutely love what he did with Bob Dylanís ďIf Youíve Gotta Go, Go NowĒ which became funked up, edgy and generally had the James defibrillators applied to make it way more rock-fueled and frankly, accessible. (This is featured on Rooftops and Satellites incidentally).
Manís Gotta Be a Stone was played of course - itís a single Ė and itís very solid - pure blues - and sounded stellar live. The soloing here is absolutely smoking and completely without flaw and we were treated to an extended version. A good choice to bring in new listeners and fans too.
Tupelo Honey a Van Morrison cover was very well received by the crowd and not one Iíve heard at a concert before so that was a bit of an unexpected bonus. My favourite track on the latest album though has to be the ballad Lost Again - itís poetic, rich as sachertorte and Jamesí delivery makes you believe every word. Just saying.
Check out some of my other reviews about Colin James if you like right here and you can sample some of the tracks discussed here at Colinís myspace page