Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Robert Finley at Bush Hall, London

It's taken a long time for Robert Finley to find success as a musician. Now in his mid sixties, he has recorded two albums and his show last night at the Bush Hall in London confirmed that he has a gravelly, soulful voice and a varied range of material. But fame has come late in life as, after having toured with an army band when he was younger, he returned home to Bernice, Louisiana, and became a carpenter for many years. He was discovered by the Music Makers Relief Foundation, a non-profit organisation and has become a regular at blues festivals in the States.
A tall, bearded man wearing a leather hat and waistcoat he came across as much more of a soul singer than a bluesman. I remember seeing him at the Blues and Barbecue Festival in New Orleans last year and wasn't over impressed, but his new album, 'Goin' Platinum', produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, has given him a wider range of songs and this was an enjoyable and varied set. He began with two songs from his first album, 'Age Don't Mean A Thing' - 'I Just Want To Tell You' and the title track, before putting down his guitar and launching into some numbers from his new material, all of them written by Auerbach with help from such luminaries as John Prine. 'Medicine Woman' came across strongly, as did 'Empty Arms' but his next song, 'Holy Wine' was really remarkable as his voice went into a higher register on a powerful  and dramatic song. He lightened the mood with 'You Make Me Want To Dance' with nods to Al Green and Jerry Butler and some shimmying around the stage, and then turned to some blues, really the only bit of true blues in his entire set. The next song, Bread's 'Make It With You', from his first album, was a bit of a let down, but 'Snake In My Grass', a funky song from the same album, was one of the strongest songs of the night. His final number, 'Let Me Stay the Night' from 'Goin' Platinum' really rocked and he drew a good response from a fair sized crowd. I would have liked to have seen him with a full band (his backing consisted of just keyboards and drums) but it was an entertaining set from a man who is clearly enjoying his new found success.


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