JAMES MONTGOMERY BAND WITH BARRY GOUDREAU AND GARY HOEY – ROCK-N-BLUES GUITAR SUMMIT – REVIEW BY A.J. WACHTEL
THE JAMES MONTGOMERY BAND with BARRY GOUDREAU/
Rock-N-Blues Guitar Summit
The Larcom Theatre,
Review by A.J. Wachtel
This North Shore venue is an old movie theater and has a great sound system; I always enjoy seeing a show at the cool club and tonight is no exception. A good description of Gary Hoey, solo for tonight only, is “one man, one acoustic guitar, and 20 guitar pedals.” This Lowell legend CAN PLAY. His set contains a nice mix of covers from his new CD Deja Blue including “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Bootmill Blues,” a great version of “All Along the Watchtower,” “Ohio,” and even Elmore’s “It Hurts Me Too” on dobro. His original song “Illinois Strong,” also done on dobro with a slide, is killer too. Note for note, Gary’s is much more Jimi then Eric; even without the many effects he incorporates during his set. Basically, he uses a pre-recorded rhythm and second guitar part and just plays over it magnificently. There are A LOT of notes and sounds coming from the stage. Every few minutes Hoey bends over to turn on or turn off one of the many effects he uses masterfully too; so there is much movement going on as he plays. Standing up with the acoustic strapped around his shoulder Gary talks to the crowd and introduces all of the songs with a short story. Everyone just loves the verbal interaction and his SCHTICK accompanying the virtuosity too. Did I mention that this cat PLAYS?
James Montgomery is the classic showman. His great band, including guitarist extraordinaire George McCann and bassist David Hull (Farrenheit/ Aerosmith/ The Joe Perry Project), starts the set with a rollicking instrumental before Hull announces the legendary blues harp player. As James walks onstage, and the music accompanies his entrance, he looks out at the screaming crowd with bemusement. Then with his hands at his side, he signals “come on” by wiggling the fingers of both hands now close to his waist: and the crowd goes nuts. I really dig when they ZZ Top Muddy Water’s “The Same Thing” mid-song with guest guitarist Barry Goudreau from the band Boston adding his screaming leads to the mix. During “Crossroads,” “Goin’ Down,” and “Red House,” Gary Hoey steps up and a few times all three guitarists stand stage right together and duel away. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen onstage in a long time and during one of these moments I smirk when I realize: the name of tonight’s show, Guitar Summit, is both apt and understated. Other toxic tunes featuring James’ hot harp include “Delta” from the band’s latest release From Detroit to The Delta, Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?,” and the best encore I’ve heard in a long time, a rocking R&B version of Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell (C’est La Vie).” A great night with a great band at a great venue. They don’t have shows like this in North Dakota, folks.