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Live Review: Robert Cray, Continental Blues Band, Amanda Emblem

17 May 2018 | 6:00 pm | Luke Saunders

"Cray knows how to capture an audience and like all great blues players he just pours his soul into his solos."

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Amanda Emblem warmed up a crowd of dedicated blues fans at Enmore Theatre with a wonderful voice and her own passion. Emblem's debut album Who Is Amanda Emblem? has gained some momentum in blues circles and she showcased it well.

Next up, Continental Blues Band brought their own brand of laid back, good-times blues to the stage. Though there were certainly some heartfelt numbers in here, the band mostly just enjoyed themselves and whipped blues into smiles and excitement. Each member of the five-piece brought their own unique flavour to the pot but the lead singer's impeccable style and mouth-organ mojo ultimately took the cake.

Robert Cray is still very much in his prime and delivered an absolutely stellar performance. Stepping onto the stage to a very warm applause, Cray quipped, "Thank you very much for having us, we are The Stones." Laughter rippled and pealed under the clapping current.

Cray then launched into his signature blues style, sweet and clean like BB King with the bending expertise of Albert King. He knows how to capture an audience and like all great blues players he just pours his soul into his solos, particularly during Bad Influence and Phone Booth.

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Throughout the set, random flurries of confetti fell slowly from the ceiling adding an extra touch of magic, however Cray confirmed, "This was happening all through the soundcheck, its not part of the show." Laughter rippled again before he launched into Fix This followed by Chicken In The Kitchen.

As the gig rolled on, Cray peddled through his arsenal of Stratocasters, with a metallic gunmetal special being the mainstay of the evening. But equally as moving as the guitar work was his voice, which is quite simply up there with the best in the business: his falsettos are strong and soaring and his melodies and powerful and rich.

With the crowd well in the palm of his hand, Cray rounded out the set with fan-favourites Strong Persuader and Smoking Gun to really show off his talents for inventive songwriting and world-class musicianship.