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Walter Trout / The Trout Brothers Band - City Hall Ballroom, Sheffield (UK) - 04 May 2017

For this leg of his tour, Walter Trout brought two of his three children with him as the opening act. Now you might think this is nepotism gone too far; however, The Trout Brothers Band (Walter Trout's eldest son Jon on guitar and vocals, middle son Mike on drums, and family friend Adam Ditt on bass) are one serious power trio who could grace any Blues stage in the world. Mike Trout looked like a young Kirk Cobain with his mop of blonde hair that covered his face as he beat the drums in perfect rhythm with bassist Ditt. Jon Trout, who sported a Rolling Stones t-shirt, played with both technique and passion that belied his tender years.


Walter Trout Live 1

Despite being a resident of the city of Sheffield for over ten years, this was my first trip to the Ballroom within the City Hall. It was great to see several hundred fans in attendance of all ages, although the majority would fit the middle-age, pot-bellied, real-ale/ale drinking, dodgy haircut demographic (and yes... my wife did ask me if I'd looked in the mirror lately...).

Walter Trout strolled on to the stage, with his band, to a great ovation; he picked up his guitar, strummed it and amusingly stated, "it works". After a breathtaking start, which included 'Outta Control', things slowed down with 'Say Goodbye To The Blues' which was dedicated to BB King. Like his hero, Walter Trout has a style whereby his guitar appeared to float across the stage whilst he gently massaged it to produce his amazing sound.


Walter Trout Live 2

The main man stated he was, "Happy to be in the UK, happy to be in Sheffield, happy to be just anywhere!" The latter referred to his life-threatening illness that he suffered a few years ago. In a 'Crossroads' style moment, where life imitated art, Walter Trout stood on the edge of this mortal coil and looked into the abyss, but thankfully, for his family, friends and loyal fans across the globe, took a step back, received a liver transplant and decided he was not done with entertaining this world with his energetic Blues. A large proportion of this evening's set was dedicated to this time, with several songs taken from 2015's 'Battle Scars' album, which included 'Almost Gone'.

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The poignant 'Haunted By The Night' and 'Fly Away' were just two highlights of a ninety-minute set of stunning, Hard Rockin' Blues lead by the former Canned Heat and John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers virtuoso. Throughout the evening, Walter Trout was ably supported by his band who are accomplished musicians in their own right; Sammy Aliva at the front of the stage on the old Hammond Organ (an integral part of Walter Trout's sound) and the solid rhythm section of drummer Michael Leasure and bassist Johnny Griparic. This would turn out to be Griparic's penultimate gig as he left the band the following night after the sold out show at Lincoln's Engine Shed (health reasons cited as the cause).


Walter Trout Live 3

Trout apologised for the dark, depressing song content; however, this is the Blues so what did we expect? He further explained how he had spent eight months in the hospital and when he first came out he could not remember his family and friends or even how to play guitar. However, not to be deterred, he practiced five hours a day for a year and has come back better than ever.

His son, Jon Trout, joined him on stage for an energetic rendition of 'The Blues Comes Callin'', whilst Walter Trout thanked Willie Johnson for the title of 'I Ain't Ready For The Cold, Cold Ground'. The band were joined by Andrew Elt on guitar for 'Please Take Me Home' (a tribute to his wife Marie). Sleez Beez vocalist Elt also took lead vocals on The Alabama State Troupers cover 'Goin' Down' where the band swelled to a six-piece with Jon Trout also on stage with his guitar.


Walter Trout Live 4

Walter Trout frequently addressed the audience on the aptly titled 'ALIVE World Tour 2017' where he mentioned how he had died three times and how if it were not for the organ donation he would not be here today. He urged everyone to become an organ donor as we each have eight life-saving organs. He introduced the band and one final song before everyone left feelin' the Blues, but in a good way!

If after reading this review, it prompts just one person to pick up a Walter Trout album, go to one of his shows or even sign up to be an organ donor, then that's my job done.

Mark Donnelly


Walter Trout Live 5

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