When a legend is giving a concert in your town, you never hesitate! You have got to be there! And Johnny Winter is a legendary musician because he was one of the most talented guitarists of his time, and also because he gave a second career opportunity to Muddy Waters… And from a more personal point of view, his cover version of Johnny B. Goode was the very one song that made me want to buy a guitar. Just because of this I had to be there though I heard that he was not as big as he used to be. Time flies like a fuckin’ arrow… And arrows hurt!
20.30… I am running late… Actually I’m just running toward the venue bumping into a table outside a café, stepping on the foot of a dude smoking a cigarette outside a Japanese restaurant. Target acquired: Bobino!! I am almost there… I am almost there… There I am. Finally!
First time for me at Bobino, and I have to say that the venue is classy… A little too much actually. I almost feel like they are going to record some French Pop Idol kind of live shit! But I am sure that this is the good venue as the audience is a bit older than you would expect for a pop idol event… How weird it is to feel so young among all these papys of rock’n’roll… I love that!
Around 21.00… Louis Bertignac and Paul Personne, two French legendary guitarists are on stage to quickly and respectfully tell us that they are happy to be here tonight and see Johnny Winter. So do we guys… So do we!
The band enters the stage a couple of minutes before Johnny Winter to deliver us some mighty furious boogie following the secret recipe that only Texas bands know how to manage: Rumbling! The storm is only beginning when Johnny Winter enters the stage… Slightly bended… Haloed with this particular aura due to his albinism… That kind of ghostly presence hiding the real nature of this badass guitarist.
He sits down in front of the stage, and grabs his legendary Erlewine Lazer guitar that he will play during the whole concert. After a little warm up boogie riffing he then starts to play Hideaway: noisy, full of classic riffs, and brilliant! His guitar tone is full of chorus effect as usual… Some don’t like that… Who cares because I do like that! The Freddy King’s Hideaway riffy tune performed by Winter shows us all the charactristics of Johnny Winter’s guitar playing though the hammer-ons and bends are not as precise as they used to be, nor is the velocity of his fingers on the fretboard (I have to say though that I would be happy with half his velocity!!). Despite that fact, his capicity to play and sing the Blues is still there… As soon as he started to sing She Likes To Boogie Real Low the audience was hooked by this genuine blues voice…
The setlist of the concert was essentially made of Blues and Rock’n’Roll cover songs (Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Black Jack, I’m Tore Down, Red House, Bonnie Morone, I Used To Love Her But It’s All Over Now). Johnny Winter played all the vocals and every single lead guitar parts relying on the neat groove provided by his impressive band. That’s only when I’m Tore Down came that Johnny Winter left drummer Vito Luizzi to sing. But the man won’t steal Winter’s thunder… There’s no way he can do that when Winter starts with an emotional rendition of Red House. Later, guitarist Paul Nelson will also take a solo (the only one except the introduction part) full of country rock licks on I Used To Love Her But It’s All Over Now.
Is it already over? Johnny Winter leaves the stage after a one hour performance… But he doesn’t actually leave the stage… Someone is handling him a guitar… The mighty legendary Gibson Firebird! I almost thought we won’t see it tonight! But here comes the encore… Winter grabs a bottleneck to deliver us two more tunes: Mojo Boogie and Highway 61. He is possessed to slide… As for me I am travelling with those notes wondering why he didn’t play more slide? Why? He has always been an excellent slide guitarist… And he still is!
Now it’s over… I hang around in the pit while people are leaving the venue… I am happy because I finally attended a Johnny Winter’s gig… I just can imagine how amazing it was to see him during is early career but I’m still happy that I made it today… Seeing those legendary musicians is just like having a lesson: Come on little fellow I’m gonna teach you what the Blues is all about! I think I got it!
Here are some video excerpts of the concert containing a part of the introduction, and bits of Hideaway, Red House, and Mojo Boogie. Sorry for the cam movements, I was fighting with the dude next to me who was trying to… I don’t know what he was actually trying to do!