Mr Kyps, Poole

Eric Gales

Like waiting ages for a bus, two come along at once, ditto shows featuring American guitar slingers at Mr Kyps. On Friday Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his band of top-notch former session players and experienced side-men delighted a sell-out crowd with their brand of blues-rock and on Sunday it was time for Eric Gales to step up to the plate and he didn’t disappoint either. I wasn’t intending to put pen to paper for this gig, as I had only just written a review of KWS the day before and wanted to enjoy the night off, besides I had reviewed Eric’s Kyps debut back in May, but I feel that I need to champion Gales and spread the word. To be honest I was expecting a larger crowd than the one that turned up on Sunday night, after his last appearance I thought the old jungle drums would reverberate around the conurbation and we would be looking at a sell-out, but no, the number of punters seemed to be about the same as his last visit, around the one hundred fifty mark, it’s a shame. Not that it detracted from the show in anyway, Eric is a consummate showman and was in celebratory mood due to his forty third birthday and being clear of his addictions for sixteen months. After a chorus of “Happy Birthday to You” and a quick selfie with his audience, the gig exploded into life with all guns blazing.

Gales plays a right handed guitar, left handed and upside down, even though he is naturally right handed. The reason for his unorthodox style is down to his brothers, a couple of left handers, Eugene and Manuel, who taught him. By the time he realised the guitar was the wrong way round it was too late, he was set in his ways and all I can say is thank God for that, because it is for that very reason that he is so unique. In addition the man is as mad as a box of frogs and a natural raconteur, a recipe for an evening of thunderous guitar acrobatics and non-stop banter as he goads the partisan crowd into an ever higher state of excitement.

Eric Gales

Cast as a blues player, in truth his style spans jazz, rock and funk and his band of bassist Cody Wright, drummer Nick Hayes and percussionist/wife Ladonna Gales compliment the guitarist perfectly. They create a nimble, ever moving bedrock for Gales to display his muscular, precise rhythm technique and lightning runs. The first number, an instrumental, is a case in point, Hayes lays down a funky beat as Wright and Gales mess around with the groove and metre, it’s not so much a song, more a masterclass in rhythmic interplay. As the show progresses Gales only shows his hand sparingly on Freddie King’s “Boogie Man” and Buddy Guy’s “Baby Please Don’t Let Me Down”, but when he does, it’s breath-taking, almost unhinged in places. Buddy Miles’s “Runaway Child” opens with a snatch of Chopin’s “Funeral March”, before mutating into a showcase for the youthful Cody Wright to deliver a blistering bass solo and Hayes to rattle around the drums and impress us with his dextrous stick twiddling skills, Eric then returns to claim his turn by riffing over Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper”.

As the gig builds towards a climax Mrs Gales gets her chance to go wild by battering a tambourine into submission on “Swamp”, while Eric lies on the floor endlessly riffing. With the intensity ratcheted up a few more notches, the applause lasted a good few minutes as his wife towelled off the guitarist like a champion prizefighter. The final song, Jimi’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”, takes a few unlikely detours via Beethoven’s “Für Elise”, Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and AC/DC’s “Back in Black” before returning to the wah-wah driven riff which brings the show to a close. The setlist was similar to his last visit, but who cares, when you have a showman this masterful and vivacious, you just want more and we got it with an encore of “Little Wing”. Well it started off as “Little Wing”, however in the hands of the maestro, he takes it to a whole other place adding his own chord progressions, licks and solos to the mix.

So there you have it, the end to a wonderful weekend of entertainment down in Lower Parkstone, but I must just reiterate, if you like rock / blues and you get the chance to see Eric Gales, take it, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

Unfortunately I arrived late and only saw the last two numbers from Southampton’s Backwater Roll Blues Band and missed newcomer Elles Bailey entirely, so I can’t comment on their respective sets.

Set List
Instrumental into
Boogie Man
Baby Please Don’t Let Me Down
Runaway Child / Bass Solo / Drum Solo / Don’t Fear the Reaper
Catfish Blues
Voodoo Child (Slight Return) / Fleur De Lis / Kashmir / Back in Black / Voodoo Child
Little Wing


Words by John Cherry

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