Fireworks

Ben Poole (2020) Hot

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Ben Poole - Old School House, Barnsley (UK) - 22 February 2020

What a difference six months make. The last time Ben Poole rocked up to the Old School House was last July, to record the double live album 'Trio /// Live '19' (see my review in Fireworks Issue #90). That week the U.K. was experiencing its hottest week since records began; in complete contrast, this week the weather was at the other end of the spectrum, with high winds and huge amounts of rainfall. However, the one constant was the talent of Mr. Poole and his band (bassist Steve Amadeo and drummer Wayne Proctor) to entertain.

This tour was to promote the aforementioned live opus, so naturally the majority of songs can be found on that album. There were, however, a couple of additions this evening; the reintroduction of the Gary Moore Blues standard 'Too Tired' that Poole used to cover when he was first in a band at the tender age of sixteen, and the Don Henley classic 'Dirty Laundry' that was recorded for 2018's 'Anytime You Need Me' studio album (see my review in Fireworks Issue #84).

For once I got myself on the front barrier, so I was able to witness at close hand the amazing wizardry of Poole's fingers on the fretboard. Each solo is different and lovingly crafted, whether it be slow or fast, especially highlighted in the fantastic ballad 'Don't Cry For Me', which starts beautiful and mellow before morphing into a Hendrix-style fret-frenzy. This song also showcases Poole's soulful vocals, a nice contrast to the gritty deep sound of most Blues singers.

This was my third time seeing Poole at the Old School House, a venue that he himself lovingly calls his second home. The sound and mix were superb once again, as was the exemplary behaviour of the fans, which has not always been the case in Barnsley. Those who have read my previous reviews will know that we once had "Uncle Knobhead" (copyright Peter Kaye) in the crowd. Fortunately, he was not in attendance this evening; however, I think his son was in the pub next door, as during the quiet part of the Freddie King cover 'Have You Ever Loved A Woman', where you could hear a pin drop amongst the audience, suddenly there was a shout of "Fuck off!" from the outside corridor.

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Poole did raise his head and chuckled to himself momentarily, but like a true professional he continued without breaking sweat. Well, actually, he did break a sweat and was about to complain about how hot it was when he remembered the summer show, which he states as being the hottest gig he has ever played (certainly the hottest one I have ever attended; someone in the crowd stated it was a sweltering fifty-two degrees Celsius!).

There was also an impromptu serenade of "Happy birthday, Ben" (birthday on Monday) followed by the tongue-in-cheek shout from one of the audience to get on with it! 'Anytime You Need Me' turned into a fifteen-minute jam session with Poole and Amadeo duelling solos. These were definitely the most fun bass solos I've ever seen live, and for those who think that a bass player just simply plucks the top string throughout the show, they need to see Amadeo in action.

Despite having to get to Luton Airport for a flight to Moscow in the early hours of the morning, Poole still came out to meet the fans. I've said it before, and I'll keep on saying it, Ben Poole should be a household name. If you get the opportunity to see him live then I urge you to take the chance, you won't be disappointed.

Setlist:- Take It No More / Win You Over / Start The Car / Have You Ever Loved A Woman / The Question Why / Further On Down The Line / Don't Cry For Me / Too Tired / Anytime You Need Me Encore: Dirty Laundry

Mark Donnelly

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