It would be surprising if the Australian rock-blueser Rob Tognoni still had a lot to say lyrically after nearly 40 years on the boards. And while his early recording career was much more song-driven, he now lets his guitar do the talking with a succession of killer riffs and booming choruses.
The beauty of this approach is that you don’t need to be familiar with the material, as his power trio draws us in with a whirlwind of riff-led rocking blues given a unique twist by Tognoni’s genial Aussie personality.
Tognoni is an unreconstructed old school rocker with a locker full of amped up blues licks and a priceless ability to make an intrinsic connection with his audience from the moment he hits the stage.
The next 90 minutes skip by in the blink of an eye, as he works himself into a sweat lathered frenzy with mix of lightning licks, power chords and an occasional sleight of hand. He even adds Townsend style windmills on the magnificent self penned ‘Product Of A Southern Land’ which builds to anthemic proportions
From the opening riff-driven ‘Birra for Lirra’ – the title track of his current album – to the rock and roll workout of ’Jim Beam Blues’ and the train-time ’Baby Please Don’t Go’, he takes us on a breathless, high energy roller coaster ride that is everything you want from an essential rock/blues set.
And energy is very much the driving force of tonight’s show. Such is Tognoni’s popularity on mainland Europe that the self appointed ‘Tasmanian Blues Devil’ has made Germany his home and you can see why the northern European territories brought up on generations of rocking-blues warm to Tognoni’s special brew.
There’s a palpable Rory Gallagher influence, there’s the speed and alternating lead and rhythm playing of Mick Green, there’s a psychedelic hint of Hendrix and the raw gut power of AC/DC, though he cleverly never dwells too long on any of them while bringing in his own chops.
He bounces round the stage on the booming chords of ‘Shoot The Dove’, he’s a dynamic dervish on the stop-time ‘Dirty Occupation’, he rocks out feverishly on ‘Bad Girl’ and as the title suggest, he boogie’s all over the place on the spring coil intensity of ‘Drink Jack Boogie’, complete with a German count-in.
His best moments come on extended jam of ‘Dark Angel’ on which he explores subtle harmonics, tonal variation and incredible chops. By the middle of the song he’s drenched in sweat as a combination of staccato funk, dexterous shredding, fast shifting tempos and a tight rhythm section of bassist Gary Rackham and drummer Mike Hellier bring whoops of appreciation from a crowd that has probably never seen the band before.
‘Product Of A Southern Land’ proves he still has the ability to conjure up the occasional weighty narrative to match his incredible performance levels, while ‘Blue Butterfly’ is a combination of melodic restraint and sustained notes.
He finally comes to the lip of the stage with a beaming smile for a deserved double encore. Given the intensity of what has gone before, it feels more like a cathartic release than a celebratory resolution. Either way, the crowd roars him on and he responds in kind with an explosive finish knowing his job is well done.
Rob Tognoni has the coruscating riffs and focused intensity to match his unrelenting energy levels and his boomerang blues is a poignant reminder of what rock and roll really should be about.
Special guests Salvation Jayne turn the clock back to the 60′s as they revel in mix of mid-tempo Humble Pie style rock topped by vocalist Amy Benham’s Janice Joplin style phrasing.
Guitarist Holly Kinnear’s orange amp rig is a signifier of their musical influences in a smoking set that suggests a very bright future.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos 1-3 by Paul Clampin / London Backline Photography
Photos 4-8 by Phil Honley
On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.
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Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)
Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)
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