WALTER TROUT, The Trout Brothers @Robin 2, Bilston 20/7/16


Finally, a family party that isn’t crap

Let’s deal with the Elephant in the room, shall we?

“We are really happy to be back in the UK,” says a smiling Walter Trout at the start of his set. “The guys love it here. For my part I’m just glad to be playing anywhere at all……”

Y’see Walter, that veteran of Canned Heat, John Lee Hooker and the rest, nearly died. He shouldn’t be here, but he is and dammit if he’s not about to make up for lost time.

Rewind an hour or so and Marie Trout – Walter’s wife who nursed him to health – introduces this most special of evenings, by explaining that their fathers illness has led to the three Trout Brothers making music. So it is that Jon, Dylan and Mike are joined by a friend of theirs for a run through some of their own songs and one emotional cover. The originals see Jon’s offerings a little closer to their dads material – and the acerbic “American Dreaming” is especially impressive – while Mike’s are perhaps more garage rock, but “Mild Cheddar” is no less skilful. The aforementioned cover sees them bring out long time Trout cohort Andrew Elt for the Walter classic “Lord Have Mercy” and if the Trout name is why they are here, the skill on show, with 14 year old Dylan on drums absolutely flawless, is why they will be here in their own right again. 

Where most would have given up and succumbed to the Liver Disease that damn near killed him, Trout senior relearnt the guitar and what’s more released an incredible album about his brush with death.

A good portion of tonight’s set comes from “Battle Scars” and it’s just as good – perhaps even better – than it was on record here. “Almost Gone” drips with emotion, “Playin’ Hideaway” stomps around like ZZ Top, “Tomorrow Seems So Far Away” is mournfully gorgeous, but best of all is “Please Take Me Home” and he’s visibly overcome when talking about the way Marie took care of him to inspire it’s raw lyrics.

In-between all this there’s “Outta Control” which you sense everyone really enjoyed, and Sammy Avila on the organ is central to its bar room bliss, as well as “Say Goodbye To The Blues” which is dedicated to BB King.

It is though, “the family jam session” which meant so much. Jon and Dylan join their dad on “Rock Me Baby” and such is the palpable glee here that what would be a family affair sweeps everyone along for the ride, and as “Going Down” closes things in thrilling fashion, giving way to an encore of “Prisoner Of A Dream” you are in awe of the man front and centre of it all that’s poured heart and soul into two of the best hours you can imagine.

On so many levels this was life affirming in the way normal gigs aren’t. But perhaps it’s simple, it’s like Walter said in one of his songs here: he just ain’t ready for the cold, cold ground, whichever way you look at this, tonight was incredible.

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