Clark brings the power
House of Blues, Boston, March 26, 2019
Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Gary Clark Jr. may be one of the leading purveyors of blues today, but that only is a part of what the Houston singer is about musically. Throw in a very heavy dose of rock into the pot along with a funky/soulful sound at times and even a reggae beat.
That is not to say that Clark is a dabbler. Far from it as he was ultra proficient no matter what style he played during the first of two nights in Beantown.
Clark heavily emphasized his new, highly political disc (at times), "This Land," playing about a dozen songs from the record where he sometimes laments the state of affairs in the U.S.
Clark got downright personal on the title track, with the reference point being that he and his family bought 50 acres of farmland in Texas. Tough lyrically, Clark sang, "nigga run, nigga run/Go back where you come from/We don't want, we don't want your kind." Clark sang it with the requisite toughness that the song required.
He delved hard into the blues on occasion ("Catfish Blues," an old blues song from the '20s during his encore), but rock was never far away either with lots of sinewy licks.
Clark often led his top-notch band in extended jams, assuming most of the leads with his fluid playing over the course of the 130-minute show. He left some room for rhythm guitarist Johnny Zapata to take occasional leads as well.
Keyboardist Jon Deas was superb. Perhaps never more so than on his solo leading into the closing song of the regular set, "Pearl Cadillac."
For all of the tumult in the world - and in Clark's own world - it was refreshing that he closed with The Beatles' "Come Together," which he previously recorded. The song does not make a whole lot of sense lyrically, but maybe the idea to "Come Together" sufficed.
Clark may not be painting pretty pictures with his songs, but he deserves the credit for fashioning much meaty, worthy material. And with playing and song structure like that, it makes for one lively evening of music.
Fiona Silver opened with a winning set of blues and rock. She sang with confidence and grew deeply personal in a song about her late brother, "Thunder and Lightning." One could only have imagined how difficult it was to sing that song with her parents in the crowd. The New Yorker got grungy with a cover of The Sonics' "Shot Down."
Silver left a favorable impression over the course of her time on stage.