The blues ain’t supposed to be happy, Walter Trout informs the audience at the Sage Gateshead.
Lyrically and historically the blues has often depicted tales of personal woes and bluesman Walter Trout has certainly experienced his share of woes in recent years. Having been diagnosed with life-threatening liver failure and Hepatitis C in 2013 Walter Trout underwent surgery in May 2014 which resulted in a successful transplant. Trout informs the sold out audience present tonight “I’m a medical fucking miracle”.
Trout’s autobiographical latest studio album Battle Scars draws upon this difficult period of his life and largely forms the basis for tonight’s show. Many numbers from his latest offering featuring including the likes of “Almost Gone”, “Tomorrow Seems So Far Away” with its Taj Mahal groove, and “Please Take Me Home” which is Trout’s incredibly beautiful tribute to his wife Marie.
Trout is in good humour. A member of the audience asks for his guitar to be turned up, to which he retorts come down and stand in front of this amp it will decrease your sperm count and make you sterile, much to the audience’s amusement.
There is of course room for some of Walter’s older material in the set including the likes of “Outta Control” and “Going The Distance”. During the latter of which he reflects upon the song now feeling more relevant than ever.
Trout’s incredible band features long-standing keyboard player Sammy Avila, Michael Leasure on drums and newest recruit Johnny Griparic on bass, who joined the group in 2015. The band holds down a tight groove throughout the course of the evening.
Over the years Walter Trout has influenced and inspired many great guitarists, one of which is local lad Mitch Laddie who Trout regards as “one of the best guitar players in the world”. Walter took Mitch under his wing at fifteen years old, and tonight they have reunited on stage once again for a couple of blistering blues numbers including a cover of B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby”. The pair duelling and playing off each other throughout.
Walter Trout brings his main set to a close with a sensational cover of the Freddie King classic “Going Down”, which features some superb guest vocals from Andrew Elt. Each member of the band taking their moment to shine during this number and it leaves the audience wanting more. Rapturous applause reverberates around the many tiers of 360-degree balconies which surround the stage at the Sage Gateshead. Walter returns to the stage to close out his marathon two-hour set with “Prisoner of a Dream”.
Tonight Walter Trout receives a deeply moving, hero’s welcome on his return to the North East of England and deservedly so.