When Texan harp player Greg Izor was booked to appear at the Relache Festival in Bordeaux, he could hardly have imagined the weather conditions to be a home-from-home combination of blistering heat and fork lightning.
The big toned harp player with the booming voice starts his set in full swing and boogie mode, before slipping into a laid back Louisiana style ballad, as the weather changes from a punishing 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit), to storm conditions, with dark clouds, a force 8 gale and an electrical storm to round things off.
But who better to deal with such adverse conditions than Greg Izor, Austin Texas’s finest, a harp player of great stature with a laid back gate who isn’t about to be troubled by a passing storm.
Tonight’s circumstances are perfectly framed by Greg’s very laid back, but enthusiastic appraisal of the festival’s ecclesiastical surroundings, just as the artist’s tent at the side of the stage nearly blows away. And for what seems like a very long few minutes the whole site seems poised to take off into the skies.
But cometh the moment, cometh the man, as Izor nonchalantly nods to his excellent French guitarist Thibault Ripault to rifle off a few choice angular lick, before Greg digs deep on his chromatic harp for an awesome tone that rattles the gods.
For the most part he contents himself with some deep grooves, such as on ‘Bump Your Head’ – on which his vocal dominates the song with some exaggerated phrasing – and some low-down blues on ‘Sugar Kane’, which is an object lesson in space, time and dynamics.
He’s accompanied by a fine French band T.Bo & The Lightnin’ Rockets who lock into the grooves, swing when required and provide steadfast support throughout.
Izor is the sort of harp player who makes ever inflected note count; though he prefers to nail a song with an emotive vocal first, before belatedly blowing the roof off with his enveloping tone.
He’s at his very best on the instrumental title track of his album ‘The 13 14’, on which he generously gives guitarist Ripault plenty of room to colour the band’s aural canvas, before adding his own dirt-toned solo.
He swings, he shuffles and very occasionally rocks, and if he isn’t great at announcing song titles, the crowd is content to let the music do the talking as they dance their asses off at the front of the stage.
And as the sky rumbles and the previously sun filled festival site becomes ominously darker, it’s left to the impressively composed Greg Izor to calmly tell the crowd that he will play one more song before Mighty Mo Rogers will take the stage.
Whether he was the coolest dude in Bordeaux tonight, or so deeply into his music that he’s oblivious to extraneous events we will probably never know.
Tonight Greg Izor takes the blues to another place outside of space and time and he’s taken a lot of new fans with him.
A quick word also about Nashville’s DeRobert And The Half-Truths, who start the soul party early. Their incredibly energetic show that makes light of their graveyard shift, as people are still coming in.
Fronted by the explosive vocalist DeRobert Adams, The Half Truths are a rip roaring soul review. They are an incredibly tight band with a pumping horn section. Their material is strong and their stage craft immediately connects with the crowd. This is soul 2017 style, par excellence.
They finish a triumphant set with DeRobert waving his towel above his head, exhorting the crowd to party. Truth be told, they don’t need much encouragement as the band has already done its job, and it’s still barely 8.30pm!
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos Anne Pioton
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GUMSHOE When Things Started To Ignite (indie)
THE NEW ROSES Heartache (Napalm Records)
EMPYRE New Republic (indie)
PISTON Leave If You Dare (indie)
SPREAD EAGLE Sound Of Speed (Frontiers)
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12:00-13:00 BARBE-Q-BARBIES Borrowed Time (Dissonance)
14:00-16:00 HEATHER FINDLAY Wild Horses (Black Sand Records)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
ELEANOR McEVOY I’d Rather Go Blonde (2010)
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