Friday, 21 March 2014

Larry Miller and his Band [support by Buffalo Angels] - Phoenix, Exeter - 20th March, 2014

Sublime Cosmic Noise

It’s Miller time, and goddamn that’s loud! I don’t recall seeing a PA system – but I was mesmerised by Miller’s playing from the very start and didn’t really look around much beyond his playing – and standing directly in line with his Marshall amp I think that was the sole source of the pulverising volume. My goodness this guy can play. Next to Jeff Beck, Larry Miller is the finest guitarist I have seen live in many, many years. He is a wiry denim-dressed explosion of energy with the most boyish sense of humour and banter. It is infectious. And he is a virtuoso guitarist. Great vocals too.

The Harvard team that has just discovered the cosmic inflation after the Big Bang should have attended a Larry Miller gig to see this in literal action. Indeed, as we continue to confirm there was no divinity in the creation of all we are - just some fortuitous if phenomenal collision to begin without a beginning [that’s the bit we can’t conceptualise, isn’t it?] - it is worth postulating that primordial B-mode polarisation may have indeed created the universe, but more importantly, its gravitational waves and ripples provided the cosmic foundation for the evolution of the electric guitar and axemen like Larry Miller to play its universal Rock reality with such sublime skill. [As a committed Christian, Miller wouldn't agree with the extended analogy here, but I trust he'd appreciate the compliment!].

Last night’s gig at the Phoenix was set in motion by the fine local blues band Buffalo Angels. With Julian Piper and Andy Knight on guitars they too have a pair of cosmically charged atoms in this universal lineage of six-string mastery. Such a fine amalgam and mix of slide and finger-picked blues, as well as one Country blues number that I particularly enjoyed. With Ian Jennings on double bass and Richard Glazebrook on drums, this foursome was such an instinctive and enjoyable support for Miller. 

Buffalo Angels

Larry and his Band - Graham Walker on drums and Derek White on bass - played a blistering set. Miller’s guitar playing is clearly influenced by and invokes brilliantly that of Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore. I was struck by the lack of use of effects, particularly wah-wah [though he did indulge this in penultimate set number Voodoo Chile], and with Miller it is all volume and virtuoso skill which includes that glorious finesse of feedback great players possess naturally. Final set number was a beautiful cover of Parisienne Walkways. Miller also played some 'acoustic' songs [though amped up if you'll excuse the paradox] on respectively acoustic guitar, dobra and mandolin, and here too he excelled, the vocal perhaps a little more on show – and he sings with emotional abandon. Wonderful. 

I don’t believe it’s possible to catch the essence of Larry Miller in studio recordings, so his most recent Live and Outlawed is a good place to start, though even this can’t capture the raw energy, volume and delightfully unaffected patter of Miller live on stage - but do listen especially to Calling All The Angels which is as beautiful and perfect as it gets, both in the songwriting and the emotive playing. His 2012 studio album On The Edge is brilliant and certainly does justice to his innate talent as player and songwriter. I’m not going to talk through the tracklist for this, but there is the full range of the blistering to the balladic, and it closes on a gorgeous instrumental in the PW vein: The Wrong Name [Part Two]

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