The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
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TONY JOE WHITE
Fly By Night, Fremantle
21 May 2011

 

By Shane Pinnegar
Photos by Gazman Campbell

 

Fremantle sat in eerie stillness in stark contract to the wild and wet storms which had raged most of the day as we made our way into The Fly to see The Swamp Fox in person.

 

Frank Yammal, an elderly Aboriginal gent with an acoustic guitar and a quite amazing voice opened the show, but despite entertaining half the venue, his emotive vocals failed to captivate many of those present through a set which was perhaps too maudlin and samey.


You could have heard a pin drop as Tony Joe Whiite ambled across the stage and sat all alone on a chair with nothing but his guitar.

 

 

“How y’all doin’?” he asked, and the show was underway with ‘Way Down South’ before ‘Roll Train Roll’, from recent album “The Shine”, before being joined by his touring drummer, introduced as ‘Snake Man’, himself a master of restraint.

 

White has such a repertoire that it’s almost impossible for him to write a setlist that would disappoint - ‘Undercover Agent For The Blues’, a majestically swampy ‘Roosavelt and Ira Lee’, squalls of angry harmonica and dirty guitar on the ZZ Top-ish ‘Would You Wear Stockings’, ‘The Teneca Motel’, all stand as testament to a long and successful career, and proved that the notes unplayed are as hypnotic and seductive as those that are – White leaves so much room in his songs, room for emotion and connection.

 

 

Early favourite ‘Polk Salad Annie’ is full of crunch and bite, and when Tony Joe and Snake Man return to the stage after a short break, it’s for the moody ‘Can You Hear The Thunder’ and a sultry, sublime ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’, Tony Joe’s breathy baritone cracking the stillness and raising the heat.

 

 

The slide to the finish line started with ‘As The Crow Flies’, written by White and made famous by Rory Gallagher, before ‘Season Man’, which was all atmospherics – smooth and raw, steamy and dangerous.

 

Another song from “The Shine”, ‘Tell Me Why’ took it’s rightful place amongst these decades old classics, and closer ‘Steamy Windows’ – a much rockier rendition of his song than Tina Turner’s chart bothering version – closed out a near perfect night of swampy blues.

 

 

Sure, he didn’t play ‘Even Trolls Love Rock n Roll’, but no-one went home disappointed!