Sunday, March 17, 2024

Popa Chubby @ Olympia, Paris - March 17th, 2024


It's been nearly 28 years since we first saw the Chubster on stage in a now-defunct blues club in Manhattan. We've seen him several times since, and he always delivers. Last time was almost two years ago at Cabaret Sauvage and the dude showed no sign of slowing down, despite his girth now forcing him to perform seated. If you've seen the the big man on stage any time in the past three decades, then you know what he's all about: groovy, muscular blooze-rock performed with gusto and reverence, killer guitar solos inspired by Hendrix, Stevie Ray and the usual suspects, and a no-bullshit attitude inherited from his punk-rock days. You know, good times rock n' roll music.

His latest album Live at G. Bluey's Juke Joint, NYC is a great introduction his live show, but obviously nothing beats being there, in the moment, amidst a fervent crowd, clapping and cheering after every gutbucket solo. As an added treat, Pop brought up local Blues guitar hero Manu Lanvin to jam on a fiery version of Going Down.

There were two slight disappointments: first the fact that this was an all seated show. Yes, the star of the evening is also seated, but this isn't school, or church: it's a rock show, and people want to dance. Second, the predictable setlist: Popa's act hasn't varied much in the last thirty years, always relying on the same conventional covers (Hey Joe, Hallelujah, Further On Up The Road, Sympathy For The Devil) and the same unmoveable drum duet. I would have loved to hear him exhume some of the songs from his major label debut Booty and the Beast or some of his more left-field covers like Tom Wait's Heartattack and Vine.

On the other hand, these are some of the things that his followers have come to expect, and the man is nothing if not a crowd pleaser. On that front, judging by the standing ovation during the curtain calls, it was once again mission accomplished. 

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