Concert Review: Eric Gales & Misty Blues @ Cohoes Music Hall, 11/07/2023
In the world of blues guitar, there aren’t many players like Eric Gales. The 49-year-old Memphis native is widely regarded as one of the best blues guitarists in the world. Players like Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Dave Navarro, and Carlos Santana have all sung his praises, with Bonamassa going as far as calling Gales the best player alive. Gales was raised in a musical family, picking up the guitar at a young age and becoming a prodigy in short order. Not many people can claim that they signed an autograph for Stevie Ray Vaughan at the age of 15, but Gales did.
On Tuesday, November 7, he brought his tour to the historic Cohoes Music Hall. His performance was a master class in guitar playing. There were many notable local musicians in the crowd, watching this legend and taking notes. The excellent acoustics of the room really helped to accentuate his brilliance. Every note was crystal clear as he led his band through a 90-minute set of powerful blues and rock. Gales is currently touring in support of his Grammy-nominated 2022 album, The Crown. Songs from that record made up the majority of his setlist. He took the studio versions and expanded on them, taking sonic journeys with each track. “You Don’t Know the Blues” featured some stellar playing, with a snippet of the Rolling Stones classic “Miss You” thrown in during one solo. While his technical ability is flawless, he infuses so much soul and passion into his playing. Whether he is playing blistering, lightning-fast solos or just laying back and playing slow 12-bar blues runs, he never seems to be thinking about what he is doing. The guitar seems like an extension of his person. I don’t think he stopped smiling the whole night. That kind of joy is infectious.
“The Storm” was born out of Gales’ struggles during the COVID pandemic. The slow-burning track captivated the Cohoes audience. Gales is often compared to Jimi Hendrix. Both are left handed players; both straddle the line between blues and rock and both players are virtuosos. Gales didn’t shy away from the comparison on Tuesday night. Instead, he leaned into it. He offered up a barn-burning cover of “Voodoo Child.” Rather than mimic the song note-for-note, he made it his own. His rhythm section turned the song into an exploration of funk, with his bass player throwing down some fantastic slap playing. “Voodoo Child” segued into a solo rendition of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” Throughout the night, Gales interacted with the crowd. He was gracious and humble, thanking everyone in attendance. It was very clear that Gales is grateful for his fans and their support. In a world of pretentious pop stars, it is refreshing to see an artist that truly loves his fans the way that Mr. Gales does. He took time to sign autographs and take photos with his fans after the show was over. If you ever get the chance to see him live, I encourage you to do so. I can’t wait to see him again.
Williamstown, Massachusetts-based Blues act Misty Blues opened the show. Led by singer Gina Coleman, Misty Blues is a force of nature on stage. Coleman channels artists like Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Ruth Brown and Koko Taylor. Her voice and stage presence are captivating. Lead guitarist Seth Fleischmann’s playing was incendiary. Aaron Dean’s saxophone was equally impressive. Coleman’s son, Diego Mongue, sat in with the band on rhythm guitar. His own band, The Diego Mongue Band, is making its mark musically. They will be representing the Capital Region, performing at the 2024 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Mongue is a well-rounded musician, playing guitars, bass and drums. I expect great things from this gifted young man. The rhythm section of Bill Patriquin on bass and Rob Tatten on drums was super tight and in the pocket all night. Keyboard player Dave Vittone rounded out the band. While they are a relatively local band, they have international reach. Misty Blues have toured worldwide, recently performing at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. The same club that birthed a little band called The Beatles. Their single “Where Your Blues Comes From” is currently playing on Sirius XM. They closed their set with this song. The groove is reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bombtrack.”
I can’t stress just how much I enjoy shows at Cohoes Music Hall. The sound is stellar. The sightlines are wonderful. It is a cliché to say that there is not a bad seat in the house, but it really fits this venue in particular. The staff is friendly and helpful. The drinks and concert tickets are affordable. Get out and see a show here. You won’t regret it.
Check out this great fan-filmed video from the show!