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John Mayall – Debaser Medis, Stockholm, Sweden, 2011-07-04

2011-07-05

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The dimly lit club is packed, there’s that hint of tobacco smell that exists even though smoking in bars has been banned in Sweden for years. On stage the four musicians are working their way through a long jam. There’s guitar solos, bass solos, drum solos, and the singer is wailing away on a harmonica. The audience is eating it all up, singing along and yelling their praise between songs. If you were to close your eyes you’d have no way of knowing that the guy playing the harmonica is 77 going on 78 years old, and that with my 33 years, I’m probably one of the youngest people in attendance.

This was my first time seeing John Mayall. I’ve always wanted to go see one of his shows, but just like with Eric Clapton, there’s just never been time. Mayall started the show solo by playing harmonica and singing “Another Man” off of the classic Beano album. Then the rest of the band; bassist Greg Rzab, drummer Jay Davenport, and Rocky Athas on guitar, joined Mayall on stage. The first song they played was “All Your Love.” Now, I know all blues purists out there will hate me for saying this, but to me that was the song I had wanted to hear the most. Rocky really did justice to Clapton’s guitar parts, pretty much playing the solo note for note of the album version.

John Mayall himself did not play guitar at all during the show. A real shame if you ask me. However, he did play a mean piano, and that harmonica – man, need I say more? It’s quite amazing how after all these years, Mayall seem to have lost none of his vocal range. He did however have a binder full of lyrics lying on his piano, but who can blame the man? When you change up the set as much as Mayall does on a nightly basis, remembering lyrics must be really tricky.

Out of the songs that Mayall played from his latest album Tough, my favorite was his version of “Nothing to Do With Love.” Actually, the first five songs of the night, “Another Man,” “All Your Love,” “Oh Pretty Woman,” “Chicago Line,” and “Nothing to do with Love” were fantastic. I loved Mayall’s harmonica on “Chicago Line.”

In “Mama Talk to Your Daughter” the audience got to sing along with Mayall, and like I wrote earlier, the audience was very responsive, much more so than many rock audiences I’ve experienced. Now, a big reason why the concert was so good is thanks to John Mayall’s fantastic band. Once he was done with his Clapton-homage of “All Your Love,” guitarist Rocky Athas got free reigns to wail away to the delight of the crowd. But my favorite by far was bassist Greg Rzab. The man is an amazing bass player, and he has great stage prescence. He played some great bass solo’s for which he got massive applause, and just served as a great sidekick to Mayall, bringing some youthful (it’s all relative right?) presence to the show. In fact, while leaving the stage before the encore, Rzab did a little moonwalk!

The song that brought down the house musically was the closing number of the main set, “Room to Move” – probably the only John Mayall song with any kind of chart success as far as I know. Well, Mayall and the band treated us to what must have been at least a 15 minute version of the song. Everyone got to take a solo. Even drummer Jay Davenport, who had stayed in the background for the entire show, put on a great jazz-flavored solo. And this is also where Greg Rzab really got to shine, with a bass solo I’ve not seen the likes of since seeing Stefan Lessard of Dave Matthews Band two winters ago. But most amazing was Mayall with his harmonica solo that goes in to that scat/beatbox solo thing.

After playing one encore, “The Sum of Something,” the last song on Tough, the band left the stage, and Mayall proceeded to shake hands with the people closest to the stage. I was one of the lucky few who got to do so. We actually got eye contact and I said “thank you.” It was a pretty cool experience to get to shake the hand of such a blues legend, and it is something I will never forget.

When I got out to the bar area I actually ran in to Greg Rzab as well, and quickly got to shake his hand, and commend him on his playing. Upon leaving it turned out that John Mayall was actually selling, and autographing his Live in London DVD out in the lobby by himself. Of course I had to get in line, and get an autograph. It was pretty funny because he was taking care of the whole business himself, and by the time I got up to the front, he had a pile of money lying on the chair next to him. I told him that I really enjoyed the show, and that I think “All Your Love” is fantastic. He said thanks, and also said that a lot of the songs they played that night was on the DVD. As if this wasn’t enough I actually got John to pose for a picture with me.

Thanks for a great show John Mayall – hope to see you around Scandinavia many more times!

Setlist:
(Incomplete, the first five songs are in the correct order. Comment below if you remember any more songs that were played.)

Start: 20:57

Another Man (Mayall solo)
All Your Love
Oh Pretty Woman
Chicago Line
Nothing to Do With Love

Blues for the Lost Days
Mama Talk To Your Daughter

Room to Move

Encore:
The Sum of Something

End: 22:33

Pictures

A set of professional photos: Rockfoto.nu

Videos (Not my videos, just links to YouTube)


4 Responses to “John Mayall – Debaser Medis, Stockholm, Sweden, 2011-07-04”

  1. Lisa says:

    Great review! Thanks! :)

  2. Daniel says:

    Thanks Lisa, glad you enjoyed it! :)

  3. Ben says:

    Great article. Ive been a fan since I was 13 when my aunt gave an autographed version of the Bluesbreakers album. Great guitar player and really did a lot for Rock’n'Roll. He is completely under rated and it pisses me off when my generation forgets to mention him as one of the greats. With that being said, I noticed that he is going to be a judge for this company called The International Songwriting Competition. Along with Mr. Mayall other judges include Tom Waits, Jeff Beck, My Morning Jacket, Ozzy Osbourne, Lucinda Williams and many many more. I have already entered because even if there is a slight chance that my musical idols will be able to hear some of my music it is still worth it. Here is the website: http://www.songwritingcompetition.com

    Enjoy.

  4. Daniel says:

    That’s awesome Ben! Good luck in the songwriting competition!

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