Eric Burdon & The Animals at the Jazz Cafe, London, 13th March 2006
Eric Burdon was one of the finest voices of the British blues boom of the ‘60s, and tonight at the Jazz Café, in the first of two nights at the venue, he showed that he has lost none of his power. The current version of the Animals consists of Eric McFadden on guitar, Red Young on keyboards, Paula O’Rourke on bass, and Wally Ingram on drums, and the group provided a solid basis for the vocalist’s work. Burdon plays infrequently in London these days – his last gig was at the same venue around a year ago – and clearly was an occasion for a sell-out crowd of devoted followers. He started off perched on a stool, but spent most of the gig prowling around the tiny stage. The set opened with Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, an early hit of the original Animals. From the same period came a version of the first major hit for the original Animals – “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” (recorded by them as “Baby Let Me Take You Home”), a song they learned from a Bob Dylan LP. “I Put A Spell On You”, another song associated with Nina Simone was the first solo release by Alan Price when he left the original Animals, and here Burdon did a good strong version of the song. From his US west coast “psychedelic” phase came “Monterey”, Burdon’s impressions of the 1967 rock festival. To bring things up to date, we got “Soul Of A Man”, the title song of the new CD, where Burdon was joined on vocals by the bassist. The most popular song of the evening was “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place”, with the audience singing along lustily on the chorus. A condemnation of the response by US authorities to the hurricane Katrina led into a version of Leadbelly’s “I Ain’t Goin’ Back To That Red Cross Store”. “Slow Moving Train” was a piano-based slow blues, and the set concluded with a New Orleans medley comprising “Goin’ to the Mardi Gras”, “I Miss My Gal More Than I Miss New Orleans”, and, inevitably, “House Of The Rising Sun”. For the encore, he sang “Spill the Wine” from the American period, returned to his Bo Diddley roots for “Before You Accuse Me”, and finished with a good version of “River Deep Mountain High”. Eric Burdon in 2006 is performing as well as at any time in his career. The support act, a trio led by guitarist Mark Buck, performed a jazzy set which included a variety of songs ranging from Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” to BB King’s “Every Day I Have The Blues”.
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