Date: 21,22-07-2007, Arrow Blues Festival 2007
By: Elvira Visser
I went to see Ian Parker not because I heard his music but because I read in the paper that he got an award for best performer at this blues festival last year. So something you should see. After putting his gear on stage I was not quite sure what this band would bring me, but after the first song I knew this was good. Ian Parker definitely is one of those guys that does not need a whole show around him, just his band, his guitar and his songs. His songs vary between blues, soul, a bit of jazz and funk with some singer-songwriter talent for the finishing touch.
When seeing him on stage you see that what he is doing is not just a stage
act, it is now and right there. During his guitar solo’s he closes his eyes and loses himself in his music, perhaps even forgetting the crowd in front of him. His songs have honest and personal lyrics and he does not mind sharing why he wrote a specific song, I think that gives a special quality to a live performance especially when you have never heard the music before. You can understand what he is playing and what he is singing.
The first day was a nice day and the band played in full sun and the square was packed with people that came to listen to him. He played different styles of songs bit blues, bit jazz, some Mississippi blues and the crowd seemed to like all, although some seemed to prefer the blues songs a bit more. The occasional rawness of his excellent voice give his songs a special unique sound. The first day he would play an acoustic set and the second day he would play with electric guitar. When he played an amazing solo the audience rewarded him with applause and whistles. When he announced a song “It Hurts a Man” he told that he
wrote this when his grandmother died. That song was just one beautiful song played with much emotion which you could see on his face and you could feel. It was clear that it was not only me who felt it because the crowd exploded in a big applause. Ian has chosen just the right artists around him. They know how to accompany his playing perfectly and besides that he has a brilliant keyboard player and mouth organist in Morg Morgan, who received a great response from the audience.
The crowd sang along when he played a U2 cover “With or Without You”. To me it seems a difficult song to cover, but Ian put a lot of feeling in this song. His voice was only accompanied on his acoustic guitar. This song was really great especially for those who have never heard Ian Parker, they could interact and sing along. However, I am curious how this song would have sounded if he performed it a Capella. I think it has the potential to stand out a little more.
The second day Ian looked very sceptically at the sky, I think we all did. As a musician you do not like to play in the rain, but it all started okay. I was quite curious if he would impress me today as much as the day before. He would play on electric guitar and after a couple of songs I have to admit he really is a great guitar player. He had put on his Sundays best for us and was ready to play. He seemed a bit more relaxed and he got the crowd going after only 2 songs. Sadly it started to rain halfway the set. People remained standing in front of the stage, walking away was not an option. Ian said he was impressed because we were still standing there in the rain and Morg pulled some repulsive faces while looking up to the sky. At one point it was raining heavily people decided to open up umbrellas and hide.
Ian kept singing but apparently did not like the look of a sea of umbrellas and kneeled down. He looked under the umbrellas and kept singing. I read somewhere he was quite a shy guy and had to learn to interact with the crowd, nothing of that was visible. This was really interacting with us, he sat down on one of the monitors and played a guitar solo while we could see him under our umbrella’s. After this, and seeing the crowed was not walking away it seemed he got a bit more energy and his last couple of songs were really amazing and full of energy. He was really doing his best to play a good show, and it really was a good one. He was a bit surprised that people kept waiting, shouting for an encore. At that time it was really raining like shit. They played two more songs if I am right, and it felt like they expanded their last song, a bit of jamming perhaps? They really seemed to enjoy it and it was a good end to this show. Even though it started raining during the set this was a really good show.