This was my first time to see American Bluesman Johnny Winter perform having been a fan since buying his storming live album back in the early 70’s.
White Blues Rock guitar slinger Johnny was born in Texas in 1944 and has been recording, playing and producing great rock and blues music since he was 15 years of age.Rolling Stone magazine picked up on Johnny Winter back in 1968 and resulted in incendiary performances in Woodstock and numerous festivals and jams with Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison in the rock arena and Walter Horton, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters in the blues world.
He hooked up with legendary Bluesman Muddy Waters in 1977, playing and producing some Grammy Award winning recordings with Muddy and his band up until Muddy’s death and was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall Of Fame in 1988.His career was badly screwed up by poor management over the years with many dubious releases credited to the mercenary motives of former manager Roy Ames.
Johnny’s tone has been pure authentic Delta blues crunch and boogie grind with amazing prowess on acoustic and electric bottleneck and has been burning up stages with his lightning.The Astoria in London was packed with fans many like me who travelled a great distance just to see Johnny perform conscious of the fact that he has lived life in the fast lane over the years and is lucky to be still alive and well the title of one of his hits.
The Scott Mc Keon Band kicked off the show in The Astoria with some loud high energy rock blues reminiscent of the main act and also in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the new young guns of the genre.Johnny arrived on stage dressed in black, with his trademark Black Hat and sat down on a chair at the front of the stage.
At 63 years of age he may look physically weak in appearance but his guitar skill is still astonishing with dazzling fret board skill.I had to withdraw from the front of the stage because of the sheer distorted volume coming from a wall of speakers and moved about the various circles and balconies which are very much similar to our own Olympia in design, to get a better sound position stopping into the Keith Moon Bar for some local sustenance.
All my favourite covers were blasted out like Hoochie Coochie Man, Hideaway, Tore Down, It’s All Over Now, Blackjack and Highway 61 Revisited in a set lasting 90 minutes long.The Astoria was clearly full of dedicated fans who were in thrilled to see their hero and master of the blues rock guitar still on fire with his rhythm section Scott Spray on Bass and Wayne June on Drums pumping solidly behind him.
There is a fond regard and great sympathy for this artist who has suffered so much mismanagement and drug abuse and thanks to his new management has been rehabilitating his body and career with this highly acclaimed and successful tour.
The term living legend is often bandied about but no one deserves the title more than this master of modern rock blues who certainly plays its loud and proud at 63 and long may he continue.It was my first time to see the unusual Lazer Guitar which Johnny maintains is the perfect mix between the Stratocaster and the Gibson and was screaming white hot riffs in the hands of this giant of rock n blues guitar.
“Oh God said to Abraham, kill me a son
Abe said man you must be putting me on
God said no, Abe said what
God said you can do what you want Abe but
Next time you see me coming you better run
Well, Abe said where you want this killing done
God said out on Highway 61”
Mik Kenny aka MTW