When you have an extensive career, sometimes your performance can become stale. Bob Walsh proves the contrary. Walsh has been performing since the 60's when he was in his first group, Blue Boys Band. Since then he has carved a career that has always been backboned in the blues. He has done just as many covers as originals but when recording the covers he has a way of making them his own. Whether playing solo, as a duo, full band, or with a string arrangement, he never loses focus of the root of a song.
On Wednesday, January 30th, Walsh and his 5 piece band took the stage at the Sin Taverne Urbaine in Laval and played two sets comprising of 18 songs. Unlike a relief pitcher in baseball, this band did not need time to warm up. It was play ball from the first song "When Are You Coming Over". It was immediately apparent these lads were professionals and had played together before. It was obvious to the crowd they were in for a solid show. The band continued with "Inside I'm all Blue" (from Walsh's 2010 release of the same name), followed by the Bill Wither's 1971 classic "Ain't No Sunshine".
Walsh has a stentorian voice that commands your attention. He digs deep and lets out roars which were witnessed on "House of the Rising Sun", amongst others. Walsh also offered up several tracks from his latest release, 2012's "There's a Story Here", including the title track, "Put Your Foot Down", and "Can't Sit Still".
The band went back to 2010's "Inside I'm All Blue" to present "Slightly Hung Over", which a few patrons may have been the following morning. The song had bassist Jean Cyr pull out an upright bass and he pulled off a nice solo leading up to a fine Fender Strat lead by guitarist Christian Martin. Converse to Metallica, Walsh took Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" and stripped it down to the bare bones and made it his own, even changing the opening verse from "On the long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha" to "east of Montreal", perhaps referring to his birthplace, Quebec City. Cyr played a passage with a bow on the upright bass that had the fans standing and applauding in appreciation.
When a performer names his band after himself, oftentimes the other musicians are encouraged to lay low in the background and they tend not to attract too much attention. Not so with Walsh. Drummer Bernard "Bingo" Deslauriers was given a slot to show what he can do and pulled off a ripping solo. Each song had fills throughout added by the great harmonica player and long time Walsh associate Guy Belanger. Belanger also provided a few solos that kicked ass. Not to be outdone was keyboardist Jean-Fernand Girard.
Walsh also offered up "It's a Wonderful World" by one of his inspirations, Louis Armstrong, which was sung with passion. To bring the incredible evening of blues to an end, Walsh did a version of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" to the crowd's delight.
It was a great night of mid week blues presented by top notch musicians. Just the thing to get us through the dog days of winter. I don't mind the cold when there are shows like this to warm me up.