He’s recognised as the Godfather of the British blues but last night John Mayall was more like an eccentric uncle who insists on singing despite having horribly bad throat.
The veteran bandleader unwisely croaked his way through a series of numbers mainly taken from his latest album Stories.
The result was lacklustre in the extreme even though the latest incarnation of his fabled Bluesbreakers was blasting away with gusto behind him.
Keyboards man Tom Canning, bass player Hank Van Sickle, drummer Joe Yuele and Buddy Whittington, the latest in a long and illustrious line of virtuoso guitarists to grace Mayall’s band, did their best and at times the chemistry was truly wondrous. The instrumental work on numbers like The Mists of Time was brilliant.
But when Mayall’s vocal kicked in, it was frankly cringe time. He made heavy weather of Eric Bibb’s sublime Kokomo and laboured his way through Dirty Water sounding as though he’d he be better off with a large mug of honey and lemon.
Opening act was Mayall’s one-time guitar prodigy Peter Green and The Splinter Group. Thirty five years on from his glory days as a Bluesbreaker, the Fleetwood Mac founder is still battling his way back from the illness and depression that came close to destroying his career. Flashes of his former brilliance are evident but his abilities are still distressingly erratic.