Skip to main content

Doyle Bramhall II battles quiet crowd

Blues guitarist plays incendiary set as audience fails to respond

When this writer revealed he was planning to see Doyle Bramhall II, someone actually asked, “So… what was the first movie like?” Which goes to show the blues rocker is far from a household name.

The Texan has worked with Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Sheryl Crow, enough of a pedigree to ensure the place is packed. Presumably, having Rich Robinson playing alongside him also helps to swell the interest, attracting Black Crowes devotees. Oh, and his girlfriend is Hollywood A lister Renée Zellweger. But there’s no atmosphere at all. Even brilliant interludes, such as an astonishing performance of Hendrix’s Gypsy Boy, are greeted by no more than polite applause.

But Bramhall deserves so much more. You can appreciate why he’s been compared to Stevie Ray Vaughan. His skill and dexterity are spectacular, and his connection to Robinson is almost telepathic: here are two musicians born to communicate.

The set-up is very low key. No huge show, just a collection of fine musicians who plug into small amps and enjoy feeding off each other’s energy. It cries out for a club setting, when this performance would have been devastating. Coupling classic covers with originals like Problem Child, Bramhall should have created an electric intensity. But it all falls flat, thanks to an audience who clearly feel actually enjoying themselves might disrupt their air of chic cool.

Robinson is obviously in the band for more than star impact. It feels like he’s come home, and he gets plenty of opportunity to stretch out, complementing Bramhall’s more technical approach with his own flair.

Given a 45-minute set on a festival stage, in front of an active crowd, this band would be sensational. It’s not the band, their repertoire or ability that lets down the evening – it’s the waxwork immobility of the gathered throng.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio (opens in new tab), which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.