Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Robert Jon & the Wreck @ les Étoiles, Paris - September 14th, 2021

Finally. It had been twenty months since we last set foot in a concert hall (it was at the Zénith and the band was Tenacious D). Tonight we finally ended that dry spell and attended the Parisian return of Robert Jon & the Wreck.

Although they hail from California, their sound is strongly informed by Southern Rock. Their amalgamation of the timeless sounds of blues, country, soul and even hints of psychedelia, combined with their accomplished songwriting as well as their vocal and instrumental proficiency would have made them instant superstars in the good old days of classic rock.

Their current album Shine A Light On Me Brother is a delight for those who love the vintage sounds of Muscle Shoals and was tailor-made for the stage, so it's no surprise that the three numbers that they played went down like a storm.

Young guitar wizard Henry James bears a follicular ressemblance to Jimi and Carlos, and thankfully the ressemblance doesn't end there: his lead interventions and solos are always relevant and never just a accumulation of licks, building up and up to the eventual apotheosis. Keyboardist Steve Maggiora is the secret weapon of the band, his harmony vocals and piano, clavinet or Hammond organ sounds set the band apart from other purveyors of 70's retro-rock thrills. The rhythm section of drummer Andrew Espantman and bassist Warren Murrel holds down the fort in a discreet but extremely funky fashion. Robert Jon Burrison is an endearing presence and a powerhouse vocalist, with a soulful rasp somewhere between Jon Popper and Warren Haynes.

The band is a hot funky stew of everything we love about American music, in which you can distinctly make out hints of artists like the Band, Little Feat, the Black Crowes, Tom Petty, Jason Isbell, the Jayhawks, Gov't Mule, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Booker T. & the MG's, Leon Russell, Wilson Pickett... Music that never ages.

You could tell the band was appreciative of the turn out at tonight's gig. After nearly two years of anguish, turmoil, disease and death, the privilege of spending a night of healing in the company of generous musicians wasn't lost on the audience, who was absolutely engaged throughout. With tonight's performance, how could they not be?

Check out the setlist and pictures below.

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