Big Bloater and the Limits – Gala Theatre Durham (2013)

Big Boy Bloater
Gala Theatre
October 2013

I often get asked what my favourite type of music is; and I often struggle to come up with a definitive answer but I am partial to Rocking  Blues with a hefty dose of Rhythm attached; so I’ve been looking to seeing (and hearing) Big Boy Bloater since first hearing the band’s latest album The World Explained 18 months ago.

Following a hold up on the motorway I arrived just as the band were ending opening track Hey Funky; but the Gospel beat of the following song, Sweet and Brown soon got my toes tapping and my heart beating.

Just like on the album the band were as tight as knicker elastic and Bloater’s guitar playing and rasping voice are a perfect match for this shade of the Blues. Looking immaculate in a chequerboard shoes, black Zoot suit, powder blue shirt and a big Fedora the young; but vastly experienced guitarist metaphorically punched the audience in the mouth with Lifetime Money Back Guarantee then followed it with the not quite a hit, single Double Whammy that had a couple of women dancing in the aisles.

Only half an hour in and I was tapping my toes and grinning like a ninny; which doesn’t happen very often, these days.

The first half ended with a couple of older songs plus an amazing rendition of Howlin’ for my Darling which was dedicated to his Blues hero; Howlin’ Wolf and ended with a song about the band’s favourite tincture Black Sambucca which featured a purposeful drumbeat and a stinging guitar solo.

By the time I’d gathered my bits and bobs Bloater and the band were already at their merch desk; which was conveniently situated in the bar area.

Although the sound could never have been described as ‘loud’ the front four rows were virtually empty for the second half as quite a few of the ‘mature’ fans moved further back to protect their delicate ears; which was quite unnecessary as Bloater came out on his lonesome to promote an upcoming solo tour by playing a blistering Got My Mojo Working; that got 4 stars in my notes.

The Limits soon joined him and continued where they’d left off with I Can’t Forget About You which had me comparing the keyboard playing to ‘Little’ Stevie Winwood in his Spencer Davis heydays.

After a couple of songs the guitarist slowed things down with a couple of real humdingers; I Heard The Voices Again (about mental illness) and She’s Just a Friend which featured some wonderful sparring between the guitar and organ.

While Big Boy Bloater certainly put the Rock into his Rhythm and Blues he showed his versatility by throwing in a bit of Boogie Woogie with That Ain’t My Name; and much to my own amusement, a Ska tinged version of the Platter’s My Prayer.

Every song got an introduction with the story behind She Gets Naked For a Living being both funny and pathetic in equal measures and after hearing how my favourite album track, Leonard Cohen came about I too, will never eat a 12 ” Sub again!

What else can I say? Big Boy Bloater is one helluva guitarist and leads a timeless band that plays some of the finest Blues music I’ve ever heard; but with Blue Rockers that go off into indeterminable rambling solos being back in vogue; I guess you may never hear of Big Boy Bloater and the Limits; which will be a huge shame.

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