The Buddy Guy of Ireland

Damien McCabe & The Real Feel + Fat Finger at Rayners Hotel, Harrow Sat 9th Aug
The Real Feel and fine support outfit Fat Finger provided some hot funky blues on one of the hottest nights of the year.
Damien McCabe has been called “The Buddy Guy of Ireland” by the late great Luther Allison, and certainly in terms of passion and his willingess to take chaznces his is!

Where many of his contemporaries are content to stick to the safe and predicatable, McCabe is an on stage burst of spontaneity, mixing his rapped out blues vocals with a funky undetow. And on this sweltering hot evening it was just what the audience wanted.

First up was Fat Finger, a solid professional combo who mixed Jimmy Reed with Little Feat and even Robbie Robertson and TheBand. Singer Jim Vandernburg has a pleasing vocal, and drummer Cough John powers it all along. The band overcame a broken guitar string to finally leave the stage to encouraging applause.

Barely 5 minites later the explosive Damien McCabe hit the stage with a stripped down trio, and launched himsef into his own Magic Sam inspired “Find My Way Back Home” and the hard edged urban funk of the “Meat Man”.

Two things are immediately apparent about Damien. Firsty the waves of nervous energy infuses each performance in a similar manner to Roger Chapman in his Family days. And secondly, here is performer with a hell of a James Brown style voice who makes it his priority to make a connection with his audience.

The opening tidal wave of enery gave way to some stinging slide on his own self penned “I Hate To Lose”, on which he was joined by the tall TJ Johnson on second guitar. The following show stopper, Muddy Waters’, “Feel Like Going Home” – performed on the late Brian Knight’s special isue Fender – saw the band hit full stride before the rhythm section of John Kaetner on bass and drummer ? slipped into a jazzy mode on a new song “It Won’t Be Me” and another McCabe penned ballad “Heavenly Love”.

Damien starlingly set his guitar on fire at this point, and played “I Love The Fine Life” amid growing flames that were successfully doesed at the climax of the song.

The deseved encore brought an unlikely but stunning version of Erroll Brown’s “Everone’s A Winner” as part of a closing medley that brought the house to it’s feet. This was a fine climax to a great show.

Pete Feenstra


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