Eric Gales // Dom Martin // Live Review // The Haymarket Theatre // Basingstoke
It was very windy when I arrived in Basingstoke at the Haymarket Theatre, and this was quite apt, as tonight was the last night of this latest UK tour for the force of nature himself, Mr Eric Gales, or as the weather dictated, it was definitely Gale force. On this six-date tour he was supported by the Belfast blues maestro Dom Martin.
Now the Haymarket is a smallish theatre which seats around 300 people, so this was to be an intimate show but not sure how much longer it will be before these smaller venues are off the tour calendar and he starts filling larger venues.
Dom Martin, as stated earlier, is from Belfast in Northern Ireland, and he has been building quite the reputation as a wonderful guitar maestro with rave reviews from every show he has played on this tour alone.
He has won many awards in his time since becoming more well known in around 2019, and recently represented the UK at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Tonight he had a whole hour to share his artistry with the waiting crowd and he certainly took the opportunity with both hands. He kicked off the set with a wonderful rendition of the Junior Wells classic ‘Messin’ With The Kid’ which was a track that Eric himself had requested Dom to perform. The rest of his set comprised of tracks from his latest release ‘A Savage Life’ including ‘Maxwell Shuffle’, ‘Unsatisfied’, ‘Blues On The Bay’ among others, as well as some wonderful covers. His set was greeted with great applause and rightly so.
Set list:- ‘Messin’ With The Kid’, ‘Maxwell Shuffle’/’Moby Dick’/’Funky’, ‘Dixie Black Hand’, ‘Blues On The Bay’, ‘Unsatisfied’, ‘Drink In Blue Colours’ and ‘Laundromat’/’Morning Sun’/’What’s Going On’.
Eric Gales is one of those musicians that when he enters a room, everybody stops what they are doing and takes notice. He has a commanding presence whilst still maintaining a very humble and genuine manner, and it’s this that truly does come through in his music. He writes from the heart and plays and sings from the soul, and that combination is what makes his music very personal, not only for himself but for many of the captivated crowd that hang on his every word and every note that comes from that wonderful signature Magneto guitars.
Now he has a trusted band behind him that as he says, is “family” and that is exactly how it feels and comes across on stage as each member plays an integral part in the overall experience. I say experience because that is what this is, not just another set, but an experience, and one that lives long in the memory.
Now the latest release, ‘The Crown’, is a musical statement from within Eric himself and allowed him to express his innermost feelings and fears and concerns to the world. He, like everyone else on this planet, has flaws and demons and has made mistakes in their lives, but as long as you can learn from them then it will make you a better person. His concerns were discussed from the stage at various points throughout the set where at one point he was visibly upset and literally poured his heart out to an audience who listened, and then applauded as he said he didn’t do that every night, but tonight his spirit made him do it and he confessed that he just wanted to be an example to people. He has battled through his addictions and come out stronger and didn’t waste any time thanking the most important person in his life, his wife and percussionist in the band, LaDonna Gales.
They have a spark that is clearly visible throughout the show and there is a very special moment where Eric is joined by LaDonna who has the most amazing and soulful voice for ‘Take Me Just As I Am’, where she leads the way in this wonderful and funky 70’s enthused beast. This is an awesome track on the album, but live, well, it hits another level. Absolutely fabulous.
The set comprises pretty much entirely of songs from the new album, but some of the jamming and guitar solos make every track unique, and you can see that they are just having the best time on stage just playing music for whoever is there. At one point Eric said that it didn’t matter if there was one person or a million people in the room, he still played with the same passion and commitment as they had come to listen to him, and that was the least they deserved.
My favourite track from ‘The Crown’ is, without doubt, a truly funky number called ‘Put That Back’, as it is a track that screams Prince to me, especially when he used to play the aftershow gigs, where he and the band would just play the funkiest music on this planet. Eric Gales, and this song in particular, is the closest I have heard anyone get to making me feel those wonderful vibes that I used to get watching the master. It certainly brings back many happy memories and I am honoured to have witnessed this now a few times live.
We are treated to lots of wonderful tracks including ‘You Don’t Know The Blues’, and ‘Survivor’, where Eric talked about the health issues that himself and his wife had when they were seriously ill and nearly died a few years back. This track was a testimony to surviving that and anything else that threatens in your life.
‘The Storm’ and ‘Stand Up’ evoke personal explanations and get applause from the crowd who are lapping up all that this wonderful band has to offer, but before too long it was drawing to a close and he announced that this would be the last track of an amazing evening of wonderful music, not only from Eric Gales and his band but also from Dom Martin who I am sure made many new fans on this performance.
The finale was the title track from the latest album ‘The Crown’, and this turned into a 15-minute performance in itself, including at one point, Eric bringing a Ukrainian refugee onto the stage. Now a UK fan had taken a young Ukrainian couple into her home and had taken them to an earlier show on this tour. Eric admitted that when he was first introduced to them that he had no words and all he could do was throw his arms around them and give them a huge hug. He went on to thank all the families that have opened their homes to these people that have lost everything through absolutely no fault of their own.
The music continued and it was just an amazing and emotive finale that would definitely live long in the memories of many there.
After the show both Eric and Dom were at the merchandise desk with a long queue of people eager to meet and talk to these wonderful musicians. There were selfies and signings a plenty and lots and lots of happy people.
This was another night of wonderful musicianship with some great songs and all brought to us by a wonderful bunch of people. If you ever get the chance to see Eric Gales live, then take it but also check out Dom Martin as he was just awesome too. This was a five-star evening for sure….
1. Death of Me
2. The Storm
3. Had to Dip
4. I Want My Crown (ft. Joe Bonamassa)
5. Stand Up
7. You Don’t Know The Blues
8. Rattlin’ Change
9. Too Close To The Fire
10. Put That Back
11. Take Me Just As I Am (ft. LaDonna Gales)
13. Let Me Start With This
14. I Found her
15. My Own Best Friend
16. I Gotta Go