Kai Strauss could be a Tatort Kommissar with his battered leather jacket and sunglasses. Just back from id-ing a murder case down by the Rhine. In fact, he has a softly spoken voice with a faint lisp that suggests otherwise. Then again, he does come up with murderously relentless cutting guitar solos. Many of those who know a good bluesman when they hear one were at the Harmonie – sadly a lot were not. You missed a blinder if you stayed home.
Carl Palmer the evening before, Thorbjorn Risager coming up tomorrow, somethings got to give. Unfortunately, it was Kai Strauss who bore the brunt of a wealth of great Bluesrock in a short time. Good for me to take pictures, good for those who like to spread out and dance, bad for a band on the road with petrol and room bills to pay for. At least Kai Strauss didn’t come over from The States to play this evening. After just a couple of numbers though you might well be thinking that he had. There’s a rough edge to match the scuffed jacket. It shouts out ‘Chicago’ whenever the excellent Thomas Feldmann blows into his harmonica and ‘Texas’ whenever Strauss takes a Stevie Ray infused solo.
That Chicago sound is evident on Strauss’s own ‘I ain’t Lying’ with its bar-room piano and a sizzler of a Strat solo. The musical Chicago icing on the cake coming from a killer Feldmann harp solo. I liked too the funky ‘Blues is Happening’, ‘I ain’t Buying it’ and ‘This Game ain’t worth playing no more’.
There are echoes of ‘The Thrill is Gone’ in the song ‘Put That Bottle Down’ and indeed BB King is one of the musicians who most influence Kai Strauss; so much so that a section of the concert is given over to these heroes. A rocking ‘Let Me Love You’ that taps into the energy of Buddy Guy’s version is followed up with BB’s ‘It’s My Own Fault’ with a BB style Gibson of course, delivering that fat deep noted sound that only such guitars deliver. Albert King’s ‘Gotta Be Some Changes Made’ rounded off the ‘tribute’ section in fine pumping RnB style to loud applause.
Another highlight, ‘Get The Ball Rolling’, could almost have come from Status Quo with its hard-driving boogie riff. I hope that the small audience size wasn’t a reason for encoring with ‘This Game ain’t worth Playing No More’ because Kai Strauss and his excellent Band would stand out well in the ‘Dosie Doe’s’ and ‘Moondogs’ venues frequented by excellent American blues men and women in the States. Certainly, although he hails from Osnabrück, Strauss brings an eclectic mix of the best of electric American Blues styles to European audiences, and if he ever did feel the game wasn’t worth playing no more there’s a murder mystery career to consider – now those Kommissars must get the Blues…