John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers bring the guitar-heavy Chicago Line to Vancouver’s Town Pump

kevin statham photo

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 20, 1989

By Steve Newton

Lynyrd Skynyrd once recorded an LP called Nuthin’ Fancy. Now I don’t know if British blues great John Mayall ever heard that album or not, but he sure seems to have taken the title to heart. At the Town Pump last weekend (January 14) Mayall and his crack band–the Bluesbreakers–played the blues lean, mean, and simple. And a sell-out crowd ate it up.

The majority of Mayall’s two 45-minute sets were taken up with material from his new album, Chicago Line, and, as on the album, guitarists Walter Trout and Coco Montoya were given free rein. Looking more like beer-bellied hicks from Chilliwack than your typical guitar heroes, the two players often stole the show from mainman Mayall, trading righteous solos on tunes like “Fascinatin’ Lover” and the new album’s first single, “The Last Time”.

Mayall himself was a jack-of-all-trades, switching from keyboards to harmonica and ending up on guitar for the show’s encore. Looking cool in a nifty Hawaiian shirt, the grey-haired bluesman was the living embodiment of that well-worn maxim, “Old rockers never die–they just boogie away.”

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