Last week I had the chance to see Mick Taylor (former member of the Bluesbreakers and The Rolling Stones) at the New Morning (Paris) thanks to Agatezebluz from le Blog Qui Gratte. I only publish this review today, because I didn’t want to do it before he wrote the review for the BQG… Fair enough as he invited me to the gig.
It was a real pleasure to meet a fellow blogger and to see Mick Taylor… Mick Taylor man! It’s not a gig that you’ll see everyday!! Sothank you Agatezebluz, thank you Nat (though I’m sure you wanted to be at the concert instead of me) and thank you Lionel Aknine who is the French tour manager of Mick Taylor and who offered us the tickets…
A Hot Summer Evening.
It was 19.45 and I was just about to lie down and have a chill watching some crappy TV show as Taylor’s gig was sold out and as I was damn lazy that hot summer evening!! The phone rings…
- Hey man, are you still interested to come to the gig? The winner didn’t call me nor show up!
- Ok… Meet you there in 30 minutes… [quick shower… don’t forget to put trousers… tube…]
The queue is fucking huge for such a small venue. Lot of 50 to 60 rock’n’roll dudes with their gals. Looks like a Rolling Stones fans cliché gathering! Funny… I love this! The club doors are opened… We can enter the small and already hot (so hot) venue! I love the New Morning. This small club in the center of Paris always have a lot of legendary musicians for great gigs! Just the time to have a cola drink and the gig starts!! Yeah, I chickened out… Didn’t have a brew… No way! Didn’t want to collapse!
Opening Act: Joel Daydé.
I have to admit it, I’ve never heard about Joel Daydé but one thing for sure… The man knows the Blues, no doubt about it! His voice is powerful and his guitar playing is rooted in the most genuine Country Blues. He sang some Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Mississippi McDowell tunes… On tunes like Rollin’ & Thumblin’, Little Red Rooster or St James Infirmary you even would believe that you’re lost between the Crossroad and the Bayou, right in the middle of the Blues territory!
However, he also attempted French translations of some standards… Tricky and often pointless! I think that writing a Blues song in French requires to forget about the standards and cook your own recipe just like Paul Personne or Amar Sundy do. One song I particularly had trouble to listen was Bo Diddley‘s hit Mona that he weirdly turned into a Mona Lisa (y’all heard about this bitch painting!). Could have been ok if he didn’t miss the whole point of the Diddley Beat: the percussion and the mistreatment of the guitar strings!
No one is perfect… Bluesmen work by that rule too. However, I’ll never get some people in the audience… Those people who used to boo hoo opening acts!! Dammit people, be fair and patient… The guest star is coming. If you don’t like the opening act, go to the bar, grab a beer or a chill tea but don’t be such a douchebag!!
Anyway…. Joel Daydé left the stage! Mick Taylor sound tech comes in to do the last settings…
Ladies and Gentlemen… Mick Taylor!
Here are a few facts I didn’t knew about Mick Taylor.
The man is talkative… He speaks before playing… Between the songs… At the end of the show!! I think that some liquor or a good French red wine might be the source of his speaking power… You’ve got the Blues or you don’t!! Mick’s got the Blues, he sure does!
The man is bitter… But funny and moving! A typically British touch of self-derision humor! The touch of a man who knows that he was a Rolling Stone and didn’t have the solo career he should have… But a man who seems happy to have had the career he had! (Personal note: I’m playing a dangerous game with all these tenses… Never forget dude: you are not a native English speaker!!)
The man sounds his age when he speaks, but dammit, as soon as he sings you would believe he is a 30 young male!! Fabulous to hear how his voice changes, mutates and get younger. When he sings, he is not 61 anymore!
At this concert I had the chance to have a further sight on Mick Taylor’s music. I knew his music a little bit, but not like the hardcore fan who was dancing next to me, on my right side. I’ve always been fascinated by his sliding skills rooted in the classics of the genre but with his own personal touch. A sonic touch to be precise… Sometimes during the concert, his Les Paul wasn’t sounding like a guitar, but rather like a saxophone. Amazing, Mick’s guitar sounds like a saxophone playing some jazzy melodic lines in the middle of a hot and noisy blues-rock tune.
So yes, there had been some approximations and some bad sounding solos, and I think it’s partially due to his obvious backache and the backstage liquors (man I think he was totally wasted when he got on stage). When he played classical solos he had some troubles to sound perfect. But man, when Mick grabs his bottleneck and starts sliding, the only thing you have to do is sit down, watch and learn! Mick’s playing becomes lyrical, he draws some bad ass sliding melodies.
That’s clearly what I liked about this Mick Taylor’s gig… He took us at this imaginary crossroad where Blues, Rock and Jazz meet. That was particularly the case on the first set of the gig made of his own songs from the albums A Stone’s Throw and Mick Taylor. On Secret Affair and Twisted Sister, he totally owns the audience. The third song was one of the funniest moment. Mick Taylor speaks to the audience and asks us which song we wanna hear now. I hear some dude asking for a Rolling Stones tune. Mick argues that it is not possible for him to play songs written by Jagger and Richards. Next suggestion… Alabama… Mick agrees… He will play this tune that neither him nor the band were supposed to play. He starts the song, alone and tells band to watch, listen and join if they want to. After 2 minutes, they actually did join him. The guys are professionals, no doubt about it!!
The hot temperature and the moist atmosphere won. Mick goes backstage to have some rest and to have a cigarette… He left the band on stage. They played Burying Ground a composition of Denny Newman (the second guitarist). A good Blues-Rock tune well served by this solid band and a very good guitarist/singer.
Mick comes back on stage… He left his wet jacket and t-shirt, and he pulled on a dry black shirt… And there he goes for the hot second part of the show. The occasion for him to play cover songs. First on the list: Blind Willie McTell a song written by Bob Dylan. Mick Taylor was at the original studio session. I always liked that song and I have to say that his cover is huge. He even integrated bits of All Along The Watchtower right in the middle… Perfect.
Every concert has its bravery moment. You know, this moment when you think that everybody’s gonna break down but the energy won’t let the band fall down. The energy of the crowd, the energy of the venue, the musician’s inner energy source. That’s the cover of Can’t You Hear Me Knocking. The sound his pushed to the maximum… Some parts were even close to the hard rock energy… Mick is not facing the crowd but his drummer. He might in some kind of secret communication with Jeff Allen (a beast, a fierce drummer) that the crowd can’t understand, but still, we ask for more!
The band left the stage… But they come back for the encore which actually was the real bravery moment of the gig! No Expectations… Mick sometimes call it Great Expectations. He has to sit down with a Stratocaster copy in his hands. He starts one of the most beautiful songs of the Rolling Stones. The voice is hesitant, tired… But man this song is pretty hard to perform and reach the vocal range of Mick Jagger!! The fingers seems tired too, looking for the right notes on the neck, but the slide is still good. And just like in the very good concerts, Mick Taylor seems possessed! He stands up… What if he transforms this No Expectations… What about a medley? Quick look around… Quick eye communication with the band… He starts a transition with the chords of Brown Sugar and then he goes for the hymn, the Rolling Stones hymn: Satisfaction. The voice, the vocal range, the riffs are totally different… But his cover is somehow as cynical as some versions performed by Mick Jagger and the Stones.
That’s it! The band left the stage for good… We’ve left the venue that slowly turned into an oven to breathe some fresh air and whistle some of tonight melodies.
Losing My Faith
Burying Ground (Denny Newman)
Blind Willie Mc Tell – Medley All Along The Watchtower
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
Rappel : No Expectations – Medley Brown Sugar/Satisfaction
Mick Taylor. Guitare, chant.
Max Middleton. Clavier.
Denny Newman. Guitare, chant.
Kuma Harada. Basse.
Jeff Allen. Batterie.
Gibson Les Paul
Copie de Strat blanche
Ampli Marshall JCM 900
Fender Blues Deville