“I play each night as if it were my last” are the words of Veronique Gayot in an interview with Rockpalast made before tonights Harmonie show. True to her words, the French Blues Rocker delivered a killer set filled with an emotional intensity that seemed oblivious to the restricted audience size. If ever music was the medicine it was tonight – ‘Dr’ Gayot will see you now…
The Rockpalast Crossroads shows have become a regular jewel in the Harmonie crown. That Forrest Gump chocolate-box feeling of never knowing quite what to expect, except the unexpected, continues. Some bands, like The Temperance Movement and Blackberry Smoke, were already big when they appeared in this bi-annual mini-festival in Bonn. Other bands went on to be big, like Rival Sons. Quite a few have leveraged their appearance to become regulars at The Harmonie: Wille & The Bandits, The Brew and King King have all come to Harmonie with Rockpalast, conquered, and come back later on their own tours. Hopefully, Veronique Gayot will soon belong to that category.
This was the second night of the October Crossroads. If it’s not the sweaty crowded dance floor of pre-Covid days, It’s certainly a definite improvement atmosphere-wise, on the March Festival that was played to a hall completely devoid of audience with just a smattering of still and video camera operators. This time around we at least have room for over a hundred visitors, which even at a quarter of the capacity, is enough for an atmosphere of sorts. Even so, the challenge for musicians remains – how do you deliver an emotional show when the audience is reduced to a hundred or so listeners who have to sit down throughout and are explicitly told that dancing, even singing along, are expressly forbidden? The only musicians who can truly survive and prosper in such circumstances are those that play because they love to, and because they love listening to the music they are making as much as we do. Witness Veronique Gayot then, seated on the drum stand and gently rocking her head to and fro to a delicately biting solo accompanying ‘In The Hand of the Blues’ teased out on a Gibson SG style guitar from the talented fingers of guitarist Yannick Eichert.
To quote the title of her second number this evening – Gayot is ‘No second-Hand kind of woman’. The tall and slender frame of her body sways gently throughout the evening to a bluesy, sometimes funky, always stylish music. Her face is a charismatic one suggesting she’s been down in the Blues, but her radiant smile in between songs is proof she’s come out unscathed – except for that weather-beaten, raw-leather voice. It’s a voice that can hit you in the gut as on ‘Monkey See Monkey Do’ and the Hendrix classic ‘Red House’ or it can dive deep into your soul as on Etta James’s ‘Damn Your Eyes’. The mid-tempo rockers also shine. I love the way she makes Depeche Mode’s ‘Own Personal Jesus’ her own with a punchy presentation, love also the way her band grooves through ‘Good Blues on the Radio’.
A lot of credit on the excellent new disc ‘Animal’ goes to the musical skills of Timo Gross, so Yannick Eichert has something to live up to as the band’s guitarist. He does so with consummate ease, delivering beautiful blues, cutting solos and even vocals with a sound that makes me wonder why I don’t already know his name. A guitarist to watch in the polls – and certainly one to enjoy in the concert halls.
It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a new band as much as I did this one tonight. Lovers of Blues Rock from the soul should check out Veronique Gayot’s releases ‘Wildcat‘ and ‘Animal’. Why only two releases? It almost seems criminal that there isn’t so much more. It will have to be enough until sanity and health return to the World and she can come back to tour properly. Are you listening Bonn promoters? This is definitely one for the ‘played Rockpalast and became Harmonie Regulars’ category!
The same can also be said for the first band this evening in my book. Niedersachsen based Mutz and the Black Eyed Banditz stepped in at very short notice for ‘D’Angerous (sickness related cancellation) to deliver a very enjoyable set. A surprising set too. Seeing all the heavy tattoos stepping on stage I was rather fearing an hour of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal hell. There were rockers in the band’s repertoire for sure – Nazareth’s ”This Flight Tonight’ being one of them that I particularly enjoyed. The band though also delivered some excellent and varied material that stretched into Johnny Cash Country (‘Last Grain of Sand’) and, most surprisingly even into Irish Folk with the self-penned epic ‘Through The Night’. Mutz and his Bandits are definitely a combo I would love to see again – maybe at Kult41? Certainly worth a visit.