Sunday, October 21, 2018

Ry Cooder (feat. the Hamiltones) @ Olympia, Paris - October 21st, 2018

Almost ten years after playing that same venue with Nick Lowe, Ry Cooder is back in the Olympia for what was undoubtedly the concert of the year.

Right as the lights dimmed, Ryland and the band arrived onstage in an unassuming manner and for the next two hours played the most authentic, exquisite, delightful music to ever come out of America.

Blues, gospel, country, jazz, cajun, rock and roll... This music defies definition by embracing all inflluences. Ry's voice was perfectly rough and rugged, but of course his guitar was the star. Delicate but intense, virtuosic but tasteful, his playing was at once mind-bending and simple, athletic but essential. Whether on acoustic or electric, with a slide or simply finger-picking, he never showed off, always playing to support or enhance the song.

The band was perfect, too. His son Joachim was on drums, Mark Fain on bass and a saxophone player named Sam Gendel, who, through the use of electronics, laid down drone-like infra bass soundscapes that added drama to the endeavour, without ever compromising the authenticity of the music.

But the secret weapon was a trio of singers called The Hamiltones, who provided a gospel binding agent throughout the whole show. Their harmonies elevated the rustic, earthy music to spiritual heights rarely heard on this side of the ocean. Hearing Ry Cooder's guitar play against such a beautiful sound was enough to give me goosebumps the entire show.

It was bluesy, funky, political and dirty, it was dark, funny and a little bit country... A musical communion, at once profane and sacred. A celebration of life and love, an evocation of sex and death... Primal and spiritual, feet in the mud and head in the heavens.

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