Artist Press Vol. 11> Feature: Robben Ford

Interview witn Robben Ford

Live Show Report:
Robben Ford Live at Motion Blue yokohama


12 April 2003 at Motion Blue yokohama

Go To Japanese

It was drizzling in the old harbor of Yokohama as if it were so when the port town, flourished as the window to the world for the post-feudal Japan, first tapped her feet to the American rhythm way back in the 19th century. For an evening of Robben Ford show it was perfect: the old brick house, the heritage of the town, the spirit or progression, infusing of cultures, and the passion for music. This evening, it was the blues that held them all together.

Robben Ford, who is confident to say that he hears blues in all good music, walks in through an uproar of cheers from the full house audience of Motion Blue yokohama, accompanied by his fellow blues men Neil Larsen (key), Jimmy Haslip (b) and Tom Brechtlein (dr). Each one of them being ranked at the top in the contemporary music scene, with these hands the show's bound to be a success.

The show starts off with "Chevrolet". The rock-hard foundation of the drums and the bass makes the small stage of Motion Blue yokohama seem to rise up as the tune picked up the pace. Robben Ford with his 1960 Fender Telecaster sends out perky riffs across the hall. Neil Larsen on his Hammond has a way with the Leslie like no one else does.

The show continues with "Up the Line" from Ford's latest album "blue moon". Now the house starts to move in waves to the beat. With the Baker RF model on his shoulder Ford is willing to show Yokohama what blues sounds like in Chicago. Brechtlein has steady 8 beat to nail down the beat while his cymbals add three dimensional contour to the rhythm. Haslip on his bottom heavy bass is not shy about moving up to the front while Ford goes on with his genius of comping.

After a brief band introduction, "Indianola", an instrumental number from "blue moon", comes up next. The riding groove on the guitar is reminiscent of BB King in the 70's and that says a lot. Ford rips it all up with coolest licks and Larsen revs it up on his Hammond. What a fun it is just to be there, when the performance is enough to define the meaning of Rock 'n' Roll.

Robben FordiGtrjTom Brechtlein (Drs)
Jimmy Haslip ( Bass)@Neil Larsen (Keys)

Ford and Brechtlein together show a good vocal harmony on "Don't Deny Your Love" on which the wah-wah pedal adds nice change in the flow of the stage. There's no denying that Ford can lead the band with the chord accompaniment on his guitar, that alone shows how tight the band is.

As the shuffling beat and the dragging guitar lines of "Tired of Talkin'" goes on, certain contour of the profile of Muddy Waters seems to take shape in the air. Larsen contributes with expert backing along with Haslip who locks the keystone to the arching beat of the blues.

Now the crowd is led to "Oasis" after the scorching march of licks and beats. If there's blues in fusion, this song must be the best example. Upon jazzy chords on the electric piano, Ford's clear voice carries the words to each one in the audience. This song features solos by each of the band members: the sparkling electric piano of Larsen, atmospheric guitar solo with volume pedal by Ford, Haslip has a lot to say on his bass (and his story is quite interesting), and Brechtlein tells the sequel to the story on the drums. Wah-wah pedal comes into play to add some free form feel to all the fun of it.

Brechtlein wasn't quite finished with his story on the last song, so he leads off "Help the Poor" with exploding bashing of the drums. Fast feet on the dual bass pedals build tension and excitement while Ford fills in with soundscape on the guitar. As the hall is filled with cacophony of sweet noise, a smooth tone of guitar starts singing and the vocal makes it a song. What a way to sing a song, but it's a great song altogether. The audience is stomping their feet as if to crack down the floor.

"It can't Make Sense" is a slow 2 beat, old-timey blues, and it makes a lot of sense after the burning heat of the song before. Through the window pane of the old brick wall the skyline of Chicago could have been seen while the music is on. Haslip keeps steady with his low-tone bass and Ford goes on to tell a story on his guitar. None could come to par with Larsen for the exquisite manupilation of the Leslie and the Hammond. Hats off to the master of B3!

Chunky rhytm of the guitar leads off the last number "Supernatural". Urban blues at its best, full of fun with the alternating solos of guitar and Hammond. Ford's solo is a one man blues guitar exhibition presenting techniques and styles from Chicago, Mississippi, all the way down to New Orleans. The heat hits the top and the brick building smokes on the roof in the drizzling rain. In the excitement the show comes to an end, for the time being.

The band comes back on stage. The steal beams of the ceiling start to arch upwards as the heavy funk of "Beginning of the End" begins to play. Ripping guitar on wah-wah pedal and the pounding drums and bass seem to exert the power to push up the walls made of 3.8 million bricks, while the Hammond almost levitates off the floor as Larsen adds coolness to the heat of the song. The band rocks the house to the limit, and quite naturally in Ford's vocals the whole audience hears what the blues is all about.


<Set List>

1. Chevrolet (Gtr: Fender Telecaster)
2. Up the Line (Gtr: Baker)
3. Indianola (Gtr: Fender Telecaster)
4. Don't Deny Your Love (Gtr: Fender Telecaster)
5. Tired of Talkin' (Gtr: Fender Telecaster)
6. Oasis (Gtr: Fender Telecaster)
7. Help the Poor (Gtr: Baker)
8. It Can't Make Sence (Gtr: Fender Telecaster)
9. Supernatural (Gtr: Fender Telecaster)
Enc) Begining of the End (Gtr: Baker)

Report by Tatsurou Ueda, Asako Matsuzaka
Photography by Asako Matsuzaka
Many thanks to Motion Blue yokohama

Copyright (C) 2003 Global Artist Network. All rights reserved.