The Delta Riggs, James Fahy Trio @ Transit Bar, Canberra (19/5/11)

Opening the night of blues at Transit Bar were two-thirds of the James Fahy Trio as, unfortunately, the bass player was having surgery. However, this little hiccup didn’t take away from their entrancing set.

They started off with a slow and sweet song that instantly had the crowd captivated. It mixed elements of blues with country rock into something that isn’t heard around as often as it should be. Fahy’s crowd interaction was good and the stories he told in between songs drew the audience in, helping them to connect with the songs on a higher level.

Numbers Forever momentarily changed the vibe of the set as the crowd soaked up its 60s soul-styled sound that would have made Janis Joplin proud. It was the perfect way for Fahy to show off the passion and power in his voice.

The last song of the set was a very backwoods sounding number in the same vein as The Devil Went Down to Georgia and even though people in the audience had chosen to stay seated on their comfy chairs, everyone was shaking their bodies and clapping along.

Fahy and Taylor’s voices work so well together that despite the absence of a bass player, they still managed to maintain their own sound which went over well with the crowd.

The Delta Riggs wasted no time getting into it and as they took the stage, you could tell they were here to rock. They had the look down and if that didn’t convince the audience, the opening track definitely did. It was straight up booze-soaked blues that had everyone in the band showing off their chops and the drum kit sounding as if it were being beaten straight back to Hell.

From the get go, the band were tight and the music was sleazy which seemed to egg the crowd on to drink more and more. The singer had the swagger of Axl Rose and the soul of Jake and Elwood Blues. It’s a wonder no one was on the dance floor.

Midway through the set, there came a nice change of pace with an almost stoner-rock style track. This gave the crowd a chance to re-gather their composure after the take-no-prisoner songs from earlier. The use of the organ in this song brought out the soulful tone of the frontman and showed the band’s love and knowledge of all things blues.

After the first half of the set, The Delta Riggs were able to transition effortlessly from heavy to mellow and back again and just when the audience thought the band had reached the limit of their musical talent, they broke out into a reggae song and pulled it off.

The roots track The Seed also found its way onto the set list. It was a worthy cover version that, while it stayed true to the original, had a sprinkle of The Delta Riggs’ own dimension to it that finally got people up on the floor to shake a tail feather.

The set seemed to finish up on Tractor Beat, an alcohol fuelled song that once again conjured up the Blues Brothers feel but, after demands from the people, they played an encore and the crowd were pleased they did. The finisher was a cover of Good Golly Miss Molly which would have had Little Richard himself bowing down.

It was the perfect end to the night and although some of the stories in-between songs didn’t really go anywhere, what they lacked in witty banter they more than made up for with their soul-shaking rock ‘n’ roll. In their own words, The Delta Riggs truly were a band of the people, for the people.

Something to say?