Eric Gales, new name to me, but curious to find out more, I caught the end of his current UK tour.

Eric and his band are headlining the Robin2, Bilston, a venue synonymous with R n’ B seemed a great setting for Eric and his music.

Following on from his first solo UK tour back in May and an impromptu appearance as guest of Supersonic Blues Machine at the Ramblin Man Fair back in the Summer, Eric was back to play a short series of dates around the UK.

It’s well known that Eric was a child prodigy, with many citing Gales as ‘the new Hendrix’, having seen him play tonight, I can understand why comparisons have been drawn, but its fair to say that his style goes beyond that of Hendrix and has fashioned a fusion of rock, funk and blues that’s unique.

Eric grew up in a musical family, and in the early days played guitar with his brother Eugene backing him on bass, together they played Blues competitions. Although not naturally left handed, he plays a right handed guitar upside down.

Fast forward somewhat and Eric has developed and has his own band since 1991. He has released numerous album, has contributed to several albums, among them – power of soul; a tribute to Jimi Hendrix

On to tonight, opening act is Elles Bailey playing an acoustic set, Elles has just released an album Wildfire she had recorded in Tenesee recently, her music could be described as rootsy blues, meets country. It seems a childhood illness affecting her voice has left her with a ‘natural blues’ singing voice, and it just works, a great start to the evening. Elles has been touring around the UK with Eric and his band this week.

Eric’s wife La Donna Gales, a member of his touring band announced ”Please welcome to the stage the legend that is Eric Gales”, it was something I wasn’t expecting, and usually makes me wonder ‘really’? But I needn’t have questioned myself Eric came onto the stage a little after 9pm. His band had preceded him, and were already playing. As he came out onto the stage the audience applauded him, then he stopped them saying “I’d like a little more apprecation’, this is the last date of my UK tour and all the other audiences did better than you, I’ve worked myself up, you can do better than that”.

In between songs Eric takes a step back and talks with his audience, telling them all about himself. It turns out Eric has spent time incarcerated for a drugs and weapon offence, All this is behind now and he is very proud to tell the crowd he has been completely alcohol free for 16 months now. I loved the line ‘How many have you, have not seen me before?” and a pause then he said “right, I know how many will be at the Merch stand later now”.

He played a set that lasted close to two hours, and showcased the excellent bass playing skills of Cody Wright, that Gales referred to at one point looking like Jaco Pastorious in ‘that hat’. Just imagine Jaco and Hendrix on the same stage and I’m sure you can understand the vibe created. Eric left the stage at one point leaving Cody and drummer Nick Hayes a chance to shine before returning and saying “its my turn now as he played a fabulous version of the Blue Oyster Cult Don’t Fear The Reaper that put simply just left the crowd in awe. It wasn’t a straight cover, but he’d put his own stamp on it, and it couldn’t be faulted at all.

Along with Don’t Fear The Reaper I enjoyed clear audience favourite Boogey Man a song that he was really able to let go and so obviously enjoyed playing being totally immersed in his music. I must also admit I was intrigued by track 11, along side Boogey Man a track from his recent album Middle of the Road. Eric simply introduced the last song of the album as track 11 as the last song of the evening. It turns out track 11, or to give its album name is Swamp and is a song where ‘all hell breaks loose’ as the saying goes. Its definitely a high energy song that takes a while to come down from as Eric himself says. I went down so well, he played a part of it twice before leaving the stage.

It did amuse me he told us to ask for an encore, I don’t think he need ask this audience wanted more, and were so worked up by now they would have. Eric Gales is an incredible musician, who has assembled a fine band, he tells stories, associated with the audience and at the same time put together a great show. I caught up with him briefly after the show, and he’s agreed to do a short interview, possibly a five in five for the future.