DANNY BRYANT, Red Butler @Robin 2, Bilston 10/2/16


The Blood Money tour begins

2015 was quite the momentous year for Brighton quartet Red Butler. Winners of the Blues Challenge and the runners up in the British Blues Awards emerging artist category is a decent couple of lines on the CV – especially when you consider the boom in Blues right now. Here, they live up to that tag with a pretty impressive showing. Jane Chloe Pearce cuts a striking figure and has the voice to match on tracks like the rocking “Danger Zone”, but it’s on the more overtly bluesy tunes that the band excel, with “Jaywalker” really laying their potential bare. Those two – and “Pension Blues” which sees superb guitarist Alex Butler to the fore – are from their debut “Freedom Bound” record, but this year sees a new album in the works and of the pair they try out from it here, “Big Bad Wolf” is the pick. This being a blues show there’s a cover or three, and Red Butler deserve credit for making “Shakin’ All Over” and Sandi Thom’s “Belly Of The Blues” sound like their own. The not inconsiderable issue of winning a largely unfamiliar crowd over is one that has exercised bands for as long as rock n roll had existed, and whilst it’s not always easy even here, there’s an ebullience about Red Butler that shines through and by the end, Buddy Guy’s “Show Me The Money” they’ve made plenty of new friends.

If one band ends with a Buddy Guy song than Danny Bryant starts with one, and like the song says he’s “Born To Play The Blues.”

More accurately, he’s here – mostly – to play songs from his new record, the astonishing “Blood Money”, already proclaimed on these pages as very possibly the blues album of 2016. However, tonight being the first night of the tour where he’s going to play the things causes problems, not least of which is he doesn’t know the lyrics off by heart yet and has scraps of paper with them printed on all over the stage.

He’ll soon learn them, as surely will anyone who has a love for blues. A good amount of “Blood Money” is played here, with the title track and the instrumental “On The Rocks” (described by Bryant as a “tribute to Albert Collins”) taking the eye.

It’s not a night to forget early material either, and “Prisoner Of The Blues” is great fun, while the prodigiously talented guitarist is also happy to pay homage to the greats, as “Hoochie Coochie Man” and his takes on John Hiatt’s “Master Of Disaster” and John Mayall’s “Double Trouble” shine a light on some real deep rooted knowledge of the history of the music he plays.

The great thing about blues, though, is that young heroes are coming through all the time to take the lead, to that end you can imagine that some kid who is learning scales, will in a decade or so be playing “Just Won’t Burn” for all they are worth. The best song on “…..Money” is a real showstopper here too, with Bryant, Dave Raeburn on drums and bass player Alex Phillips all cutting loose and delivering something spectacular to end the set.

There’s plenty of interest in the encore too, and the second and last of its songs is a quite brilliant version of Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country” which manages to find sides of the song that few would have realised even existed.

Time will tell just how far “Blood Money” can take Bryant. What we can say for certain is the incredible songs it possesses translate perfectly into the live setting.

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