Robert Jon & The Wreck + Troy Redfern

Thursday 23rd September 2021

The 100 Club, London

There were a number of factors that contributed to make this a memorable night: having played the band’s last two albums, ‘Last Night On The Highway’ and ‘Shine a Light on Me Brother’ to death, it was a case of keenly anticipating hearing favourite songs played live; it was also my first live post lockdown gig. Thankfully, rather than burst any anticipatory bubble, the band far exceeded any expectations.

Troy Redfern went down well as a solo warm up to the main act but in going for aggressive power in his slide playing to the detriment of highlighting his songwriting, for me, reduced his set to a bit of an indistinguishable blur. This wasn’t an issue for the headliners who in Robert Jon Burrison have a charismatic lead singer who combines a strong voice with tones that follow in the tradition of some of the great American classic rock stylists.

He and the rest of the musicians in the band radiated a combined force that made this one of those gigs that folk will talk about for years to come. They have a stunning set of songs to play with, as well as energy and dynamism to spare when showcasing them. The singer, stood mainly at his mic throughout the evening, was the calm fulcrum around which the swirling electricity of the band rotated. Distinctive in a broad rimmed hat, and trademark extensive beard, the combined effect enhanced the feeling that he was preaching the gospel of good time music to the enthusiastic crowd.

Warren Murrel on bass and shades was throwing as many lively shapes as he could from the get go and, with guitarist Henry James, represented the visual side of the pulsating groove that the band generated. The latter musician, equally distinctive with an afro that shouted 1969, was absolutely sensational, burning out extended solos throughout the numbers.

The whole set was brilliant. Stand out numbers that still resonate included ‘Oh Miss Carolina’, which is a classic rocking ballad that has a chorus that filled out every pocket of space in the 100 Club with an emotional energy that few bands can generate. The title track from the latest release is sensational coming out of your speakers at home, but on this night, even minus a horn section, rocked out like a steam train heading for a dive over Dead Man’s Gulch. Breathtakingly energetic and powerful with some effective combined backing vocals helping to create a wall of sound.

‘I Can’t Stand It’ was another great performance, featuring some lovely dual lead playing that instantly makes your brain think “Allmans”! Their recent albums have been sensational, easily among the best out there, and on the basis of this performance they are equally at the top of the tree when it comes to playing live. They are simply a must-see act.

Simon Green