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
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.