Andy Fraser Band

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Andy Fraser Band

Andy Fraser Band

Posted: 03 Aug 2013

Andy Fraser Band, Park Hotel Tynemouth

Andy Fraser was always cool. At 15 he was on the road in Europe playing bass professionally with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. The same year in 1968 he co-founded the brilliant Free, with our own Teessider Paul Rodgers, who went on to become one of the biggest blues bands of the Seventies. He co-penned with Rodgers their biggest hit – the anthemic 1971 classic Alright Now. 

Some 46 years after his debut with Mayall, he is still cool. He looked in great nick at the Park Hotel gig in Tynemouth bouncing around the stage, effortlessly plucking his trademark bass lines.  His current health and fitness is perhaps all the more remarkable considering his well-publicised battles with cancer and Aids. He has a new EP Beautiful out on his own label McTrax Records.

His band, featuring legendary session guitar player Chris Spedding, were headlining the annual Free convention at the Park Hotel – a homage to the seminal Seventies rockers that stretches back some 30 years.  A packed house was treated to a sprinkling of classics including Alright Now, The Stealer and Mr. Big. 

And Mr. Spedding took centre stage on a couple of numbers including his own 1975 ‘hit’ Motorbikin’ and laid down some lovely licks on his Gibson Les Paul on Louisiana Blues. 

But it was a young man by the name of Tobi Earnshaw who stole the show. Andy has to be applauded for nurturing and providing the platform for this exceptional 18-year-old singer and guitarist. Andy discovered him at 16 and was his first signing to McTrax. As something of a child prodigy himself it’s nice to see Andy recognises greatness in others. He was happy to push Tobi centre stage to showcase his remarkable guitar playing and easy vocal style. What Tobi currently lacks in stage showmanship he more than makes up for with virtuoso technique and a musical maturity that belies his tender years.

He impressed on his own compositions including I Will Be Free and You and Me from his It’s Not Easy album and excelled on John Mayer’s bluesy soul number Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.

I have to confess I hadn’t come across this lad before but you will be hearing a lot more about him in the future. This boy has got soul. What a nice antidote to the pap that passes for so-called musical ability on TV shows such as Britain’s Got Talent. Tobi has got talent.

Michael Hamilton

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