Paul Rose All-Stars @ The Jazz Cafe

5 stars (out of 5)

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Shall we get the rant out of the way first?  There were two things that really ground my gears about this Paul Rose gig at the Jazz Cafe. First, is it impossible to get 300 people to come out on a Wednesday night in London to see and hear a jaw-droppingly good guitar player (not to mention the other members of a stunning live band)?  Second thing; I hate it when people make a lot of noise when performers are trying to work and it’s even worse when those people are with a band who have just finished their set.

Paul Rose @ The Jazz Cafe (Photo by Allan McKay)

Jack Moore and his brother Gus were the victims of this particular type of moron at the Jazz Café, trying to compete with the rudest crowd I’ve ever seen outside of a corporate hospitality area.  Their very short, blues-tinged acoustic set showed some really promising signs; they both sing well and Jack is a very good player.  I’ll certainly make a point of going to see Jack Moore in a better environment as soon as I can; the songs I heard were strong and the playing was excellent.

The Paul Rose All-Stars are aptly named; the rock-solid rhythm section of Kenny Hutchison and Jim Drummond is augmented by guitarist and singer Randy Jacobs and two wonderful guest singers, Sweet Pea Atkinson and Terry Evans.  This tour is in support of the new album “Double Life” and the set is divided pretty equally between the new material and Paul’s established crowd-pleasers.  The two singers get to do their stuff with “Dark End of the Street”, “Let’s Straighten it Out”, “Ball and Chain”, “Uphill Climb”, “Just a Little Bit” and (eventually) “Cold Sweat”.  As I expected, the songs sound even better live, particularly “Dark End..”.  I love the James Carr version of this song, but I think the live Terry Evans version actually surpassed that.

The band mixes up the new material with a selection of older originals and covers and there are a few highlights here as well, including a funky version of the Robert Johnson classic “Crossroads”, the wonderful instrumental “Home” and a storming version of the Was (Not Was) song “11 MPH”’ not to mention a storming version of the “Get Carter” theme.  If that’s not enough, there’s an encore of “All Along the Watchtower” as well.

If you read my review of “Double Life”, you’ll know that I described Paul Rose a virtuoso and this performance confirmed that.  Most guitarists playing live these days use a battery of stomp boxes to beef up their sound but Paul Rose has a guitar and an amp; everything else is technique and he has a phenomenal mastery of his instrument.  I’ve seen many great rock guitarists, but I’ve never seen anyone with so much technical ability.

This tour is very much about the band as well as Paul Rose, and the 2 singers Sweet Pea Atkinson and Terry Evans are outstanding soul/blues singers as well as being incredibly charismatic frontmen.  Randy Jacobs spends most of the show taking a back seat to Paul Rose but, when he takes centre stage, he shows why he’s such a respected player (and singer).  I would pay to watch any of these guys fronting up a band but playing together in this set-up is something else; all of their abilities are channelled into the songs and the end result is a stunning show.  I smiled all the way home.