It is tempting to dismiss Big Boy Bloater and The Limits as a bit of a joke band. Any group that, with a reasonably straight face, announces “this song is called ‘She Gets Naked For A Living’” cannot be doing so with tongue totally out of cheeks.
They follow this up with other songs, like “Insanely Happy” (which apparently is about “chopping up your girlfriend”) and “Shut Your Fat Trap” but actually they are better than they sound.
Big Boy Bloater – who rather like Popa Chubby is aptly named – is a convivial host and a talented guitarist, and the songs, despite their rather throwaway titles are decent rockabilly numbers and the band are entertaining.
JJ Grey And Mofro’s profile is rising in this country. This is the first night of their UK tour, but comes after a slot at Glastonbury, where according to Grey himself they went on after Bruce Forsyth. Neither Grey, nor indeed Mofro, had come across Brucie before and they were impressed, “Man, what an entertainer,” he says. “And he’s married to Miss World, wow……”
Such chat is actually in-keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of the show. JJ and Mofro are in England on the back of their quite brilliant new record “This River” a loose-limbed piece of soulful blues that builds on the nearly as good album “Georgia Warhorse” that preceded it.
The title track of “….Warhorse” is played tonight, and it turns out it concerns Grey’s Grandmother, who is evidently close to. She died earlier this year and Grey talks about her frequently, adding a personal, singer/songwriter touch to what elsewhere was almost a Southside Johnny-esque soul review.
It had begun an hour or so before with the track “Six Ways From Sunday” which allows the band to announce themselves in a fine way. Mofro are an extremely talented band, but perhaps their best moment comes with the fantastic saxophone and trumpet duel between Art Edmaiston and Dennis Marion during the opening track from “….River” “Your Lady, She’s Shady.”
That track is one of many that are played from the new record – the band are clearly proud of it – a tremendous album, it is one of RTM’s favourites from this year, taking in many styles along its journey – “The Ballad Of Larry Webb” which Grey claims is a true story about a man that lived down his street, is a real heart-warming tale of the common man that wouldn’t be out of place on a Bruce Springsteen album. Perhaps the best moment, though, comes in “99 Ways From Crazy” (which has appeared on the latest Classic Rock cover mounted record, which is catchy and funky and great fun.
In fact, only once does the gig dip. A rather unnecessary and lengthy jam during “Ho Cakes” rather spoils the flow, but overall this doesn’t matter too much.
There has been a clamour to market JJ Grey as the new cult bluesman, but in reality, although there is bluesy elements to what they do, there is a lot more to it than that, what we saw here tonight proves that music doesn’t need categorizing, it just needs enjoying and JJ Grey and Mofro make that very, very easy.