BACKSTAGE AT THE GREEN, KINROSS
25th January 2014
Michael Katon is a throwback to a golden age. He's a supremely talented guitar player who puts albums out every so often but spends most of his time on the road, just getting up on stage with a three piece band and playing hard and loud anywhere that will have him.
No click tracks or sequencers, just three musicians and blues played through the prism of living in Michigan near the motor city of Detroit. Blues with plenty of rock and attitude.
Backstage At The Green in Kinross is one of those unusual little venues you sometimes find. In the middle of nowhere really but run by an enthusiast and putting on a surprising number of rock gigs to small but appreciative audiences. An unusual venue for Mr Katon's first ever Scottish gig then.
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The mostly shall we say 'experienced' audience gathered in the small hall exchanged a few looks at the volume of the first few notes from Katon's guitar but that's the last time they did anything other than enjoy the show.
Backed by an extremely competent rhythym section the man from Hell, Michigan (yes, really!) spent the next two hours running through a selection of his back catalogue of self-penned material mixed in with an occasional version of a blues standard.
This was only the second date of a long European tour but you wouldn't have known by the way they tore into the hard driving blues rock of 'Red Moon Rising', the stealthy groove of 'On The Prowl For A Hoochie Mama' or the heartfelt plea of 'No More Whiskey' written about the beginning of the main man's sobriety. I knew he was going down well with the crowd when he got a bunch of Scots to sing along to the chorus of that one.
Through all the songs the guitar playing was impeccable. He can do quiet and he can do tasteful but above all the man likes to have a band kicking along behind him while he plays searing lick after searing lick. Somehow he manages to keep the balance right and no solo comes over as too long or self indulgent, it was just some damn fine playin' living up to the promise stencilled on his amps of Boogie From Hell.
He is rather fond of the word boogie so we got songs called 'Diablo Boogie', 'Get On The Boogie Train', 'Barbecue On My Boogie' which featured some of the worst double entendres you'll ever hear and several tracks from latest album 'Hard On(The Boogie)'. Some of the lyrics weren't exactly philisophical and the vocal style would best be described as workmanlike but none of that really mattered.
Coming over as warm and unpretentious the US blues man chatted amiably between songs, played unbelievably and when he came to the front of the stage and sang old standard 'Catfish Blues' without the microphone it confirmed that we were all in the presence of a real blues man.
With the venue curfew approaching the band finished and tried to say goodbye but despite the house lights going up and the music starting over the PA, the audience demanded more so we got a genuine encore of the Elmore James inspired 'Road Tested' with some magnificent slide guitar playing.
If you've never come across Michael Katon don't be put off by the blues tag, the man is a real rocker with Kerrang features etc in his past and he rocks like a motherfucker most of the time. I would go so far as to describe him as an American Rory Gallagher which is high praise indeed! I hope he comes back to Scotland soon.
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