Blues-country deconstruction anyone? Howie Gelb is usually your man. But not this time… ‘You pays your money and takes your chances’ goes the old maxim (probably coined by hedging artists), and judging by the steady trickle of leavers and shifting buttocks, the chances turned out poor as Gelb delivered a rambling and wandering performance, unable for the most part to lock into that all essential groove/zone that artists (and anyone for that matter) should aspire to. His work has always been hit or miss and semi-experimental but recently, as evidenced by the last album Blurry Blue Mountain, he’s gone all sleepy on us, so he makes up for it by crankin’ up the volume here and there, trying to find new chord patterns and different twists on what are essentially repetitive rhythms that evoke little more than dusty and unremarkable prairie towns. Even a guest appearance from Sarah Blasko for some jazzy-orientated numbers fails to lift the overall slumber. Gelb admits on stage, possibly realising he is losing us, that ‘we don’t rehearse’, that ‘you don’t need another band like that’ (ie one rehearsed), and that ‘we’re problem solvers’. Problems weren’t so much solved tonight as created.
Concert Hall, Brighton Dome, 19 May