Jack Broadbent’s support act tonight was Big Joe Louis, who gave me a guitar lesson back in the 90s sometime! I used to go and see Big Joe Louis And His Blues Kings at The Station Tavern in West London, and one night I convinced Joe to show me some blues licks after the show. I still play those licks – thanks Joe! Big Joe was playing solo tonight, and he is a still a monster guitar player. His white and gold Epiphone SG was drenched with tremolo and overdrive – a real powerhouse sound. Joe’s thumb thumping out heavy grooves while he picked out leads and riffs in between his growling vocals.
Jack Broadbent swaggered onto the stage in a white suit, swigging from a bottle of Corona. He looked like a blues Jesus with his long hair and beard, but made it pretty clear during the show that he’s no saint…
I was expecting a solo show from Jack, but he was playing with an electric bassist – “On bass: my father, Micky Broadbent!”. Micky played beautifully with his son, following all of Jack’s tempo and dynamic changes with seemingly no cues. He sang some sweet harmonies too. Micky played bass, guitar, keyboards and sang with Bram Tchaikovsky in the 70s, and wrote some stuff for Saxon in the 80s. Bizarrely, he plays a left handed bass with the strings upside down – you don’t see that very often!
There was a great atmosphere at the sold out Jazz Cafe, and it was tough getting near the stage. Many people discovered Jack Broadbent via a YouTube video of him busking by the canal in Amsterdam, performing a cover of Canned Heat’s ‘On The Road Again’. He opened with this song, and it didn’t disappoint! Blisteringly heavy bass, using the slide to go well above what would be the 24th fret on a regular guitar – but keeping it in tune nonetheless. It’s a great song, and he really puts his own spin on it.
Half of the show was played lap steel style, with Jack’s Hofner guitar laying on his lap, and he interspersed this with ‘regular’ guitar playing – “See, I can play normal guitar as well you know. People think I just went straight to this stuff!” (points at slide guitar). Jack’s guitar was soaked with reverb, and it really worked for him. He hammered the guitar at times and the reverb softened it a bit, whilst still sounding epic.
Jack was in command of the audience all night – “Shut up for a minute so I can tune my guitar! Most musicians have digital tuners on stage. Not me. We’re keeping it analogue.” He had some good banter with his father too – Jack: “Gis’ an E dad!” – Micky (deadpan): “He’s had enough.”
The setlist wasn’t all blues, there was some Hendrix (The Wind Cries Mary), Little Feat (Willin’), Leadbelly, and some of Jack’s own compositions: the funky ‘If”, ‘No Rest For The Wicked’ (this was “Influenced by Steely Dan and all things American and groovy”), ‘On My Way Back Home’, ‘She Said’.
As well as the great music, there was plenty of entertainment. Jack: “My dad rolls a mean spliff ” – Micky: “I do”. Jack: “I’d just like to point out that the Jazz Cafe does not condone drug activity – but the Broadbent brothers do.” There was a lot of drinking throughout the set – no bottles of Evian here. “If anyone knows where to buy any whiskey ’round here, a Jameson’s wouldn’t go amiss. One for me old man too.” Cue a steady stream of punters bringing shots of whiskey and Sambuca to the stage.
Jack’s song ‘Moonshine Blues’ contains the line “What should I do about the man I turn into?” – it makes a lot of sense when you see Jack knocking back the booze on stage. Broadbent doesn’t use a regular bottleneck slide or bar to play slide guitar, he famously uses a hipflask – “I broke my flask. That’s why it’s got tape on it. If I’m honest it kinda helped me a bit.”
The set closed with a fierce cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’, followed by Ray Charles’s ‘Hit The Road Jack’ for the encore. During the last song, Jack said “I think you can tell by the way me and my dad play together, how much we love this music.” We can – great show!
Jack Broadbent’s new live album, ‘One Night Stand’, is out now.