You gotta love Larry Miller. He may be about as contemporary as an episode of Minder, and bear about as much relation to the Mississippi Delta as Arthur Daley, but the guy knows how to put on a show. He delivers his brand of old school, shape-throwing, air-punching, meat and potatoes 70s blues-rock with total abandon, and has the crowd on his side even before the set opener ‘Mad Dog’ reaches its frothing climax. He careers around the stage, with frequent off mic imprecations
to the crowd of “Yeah! Come on!” And when he isn’t gurning with intensity as
he wrings the life out of a Les Paul during another frantic solo, he’s grinning
fit to bust with sheer zest for it all – and his enjoyment of his work is utterly
|Larry Miller wrings that neck|
It’s full throttle stuff, and if the slow blues of ‘Calling All Angels’ is no classic then ‘Soldier Of The Line’, the title track of his latest album does provide a satisfying breather, as Miller straps on an acoustic and conjures up a suitably Gallic mood for its World War I tale.
Miller’s between songs banter is also unselfconscious and amusing. Introducing his inspiration Rory Gallagher's 'Walk On Hot Coals', he notes that it was recorded for Irish Tour '74 in Belfast around Christmas 1973, and pronounces "That's where I live - 1973!" He even spins an amiably daft spiel about Braveheart as he introduces ‘One Fine Day’, which is another highlight drawn from his latest album. So too is ‘Mississippi Mama’, a stomper of a song with a riff from rock heaven.
Set closer ‘Backstabber Blues’ may be a long-standing staple of Miller’s set, but endearingly that doesn’t stop him forgetting the first line. It really doesn’t matter though, as he and his band keep the ‘Cell Block No 9’ style riff going. Drummer Graham Walker and Derek White on bass are sterling sidemen throughout, laying down solid foundations on top of which Miller can do his thing.
After all this, doing Gary Moore’s ‘Parisienne Walkways’ as a second encore seems a bit anti-climactic - a better option would be the typically high octane ‘Still Ain't Done With The Blues’. It would also be appropriate, since if he ever gets round to writing his life story, I reckon that could be the title.