Are there any blues fans out there tonight?” asks Kenny Wayne Shepherd in an oh-so-innocent voice, halfway through his band’s barnstorming appearance in London town. It’s an old line and one that normally draws the faintest of murmurings, but such is the energy of the American guitarist that the Shepherd’s Bush Empire audience roar with approval.
Unlike other artists doing the rounds, a Kenny Wayne Shepherd gig is not an exercise in how many Les Pauls can you play in one evening. It’s about having a good time.
The songs, taken from across Shepherd’s 20-year career, come thick and fast, with most clocking in at under the five-minute mark. It’s done with military precision, with Shepherd and vocalist Noah Hunt taking it in turns to work the crowd.
The only exception to the short and sweet rule is the three-song medley towards the end of the main set, which culminates in a lengthy version of BB King’s You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now. Both Shepherd and his keyboard player, Riley Osbourn, take their chance to run with it to flex their musical muscles.
There is even time for a brief history lesson as Shepherd extolls the virtues of Elmore James, before launching into a raucous version of James’ Talk To Me Baby. If only all history lessons were this much fun./o:p