It’s shortly after 6pm and I’ve just put Henrik Freischlader firmly on the spot. Henrik got started in the Blues World after being inspired by Gary Moore. We’d just spoken of Moore’s tragic passing and I asked who would the present generation of music fans look to for similar inspiration, “besides yourself of course”. He immediately blanched at the suggestion “Oh no, not me” he laughed emphatically.
Fast forward a little over three hours and Freischlader is at the end of a blinding show with his band. On stageright he plugs in his cherry Gibson Les Paul on the back of which are the words ‘To Hendrik – with love Gary Moore’. He dedicates the next number to the late genial Irish guitar God. A blindingly evocative rendition of Roy Buchanans ‘The Messiah’ follows that, like the guitar, has ‘Gary Moore’ veneered into its very core. Outside of setting fire to the headstock and sending it via runners to Athens I don’t know how much plainer it can be that Henrik Freischlader is a torch carrier for the Jimi, Rory, Gary school of Rock Blues.
If you’re not from Germany you might be saying now ‘Henrik who?’ So it’s maybe good that the cover of Freischladers new CD makes much of a guest spot by Joe Bonamassa from a marketing perpective. ‘Jolting Joes’ presence might well make a difference to sales of the CD but it wouldn’t make a jot of difference to the actual music on it because the musicianship from Henrik and band is top notc,h as it is on the Harmonie stage tonight.
Last years show here got a tentative thumbs up from me due to the sound quality. This years show gets five stars on all fronts from the moment Freischlader switches on his guitar, steps up to play, and nothing comes out. “What’s that then?” He exclaims. “I know it was working just now when I soundchecked – So ein Ding!”. You just can’t help but like the mans affable approach. It’s all started by the flick of another switch and the Fender Strat roars into life. “We have to finish very early, so I’ll leave out the talking and just play!” he announces to loud cheers. “Or I could just keep on playing” to even louder cheers.
The new CD title track ‘Still Frame Replay’ is an early favourite, along with ‘The Bridge’ and Peter Green’s ‘She’s Gone’. Etta James is a big influence on Freischlader and a soulful version of her ‘Rather Go Blind’ continues the quieter vain. As does ‘I’ve got it Good’ before getting back to Rocking with ‘Right Way’ and ‘Longer Days’ from the new disc, the latter in particular shows the band is as tight as a camels you know what in a sandstorm. The main set finishes with a lengthy but mesmerising interplay between Freischlader’s guitar and Moritz Fuhrhop’s Hammond organ. Top marks to the whole band in fact – This is early days on the tour but every man jack of them is bang on the beat.This being Sunday there’s only time for one encore before the 9.30pm (!) curfew. It’s been a great show, but as the song says ‘You ain’t seen nuthin yet!’ and we were in for a musical treat.
First up was a new Hendrix cover. Well, not so new if you’re familiar with Aynsley Lister in fact because it’s a frantic version of Jimi’s ‘Cross Town Traffic’ played with such enthusiasm that ‘ooh ooh’s and Ah Aah’s soon echo from every corner of the crowded hall. Then it was time for silence, a red guitar, a dedication and the lighting of a musical torch as the first gentle notes of ‘Messiah’ wafted into the hot humid air. Henrik Freischlader – A man with a cap, a plan, and whether he likes it or not – a mission.