Words & Photos by Marco Denzer
A clear blue sky and balmy weather welcomed Gary Clark Jr. to the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and sadly for those that didn’t buy tickets early on…his much-anticipated show at the club’s Summer Stage was completely sold out.
Gary and his rock steady band-mates, Eric “King” Zapata on rhythm guitar, John Bradley on bass, and the incomparable Johnny Radelat on drums, kicked things off with “Catfish Blues”, the classic tune popularized by Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix. They continued with “Next Door Neighbor Blues” and the popular “Ain’t Messin’ ‘Round” from his 2012 album Blak and Blu, before eventually greeting the audience.
The rest of the set was an absolutely passionate and soulful performance with a repertoire that included songs like “When My Train Pulls In”, “Cold Blooded”, “Bright Lights”, and “Grinder”. The vibe in the crowd was definitely laid back and easy going: everybody was in cruise control, and Gary was driving.
Clark and Zapata were easily sprinkling their vocal and guitar magic on top of the heavy foundation that Bradley and Radelat laid down, and the show was moving along very well as the band played the last few songs of the night. Then suddenly, as they started to play “Numb”, Gary interrupted the song and invited a young man from the audience to come on stage. Apparently he was waiving a sign that read, “Let me play your guitar”…. so Gary took him up on the offer. “Let him through, bring him up here” he instructed security personnel… and they did.
The crowd went absolutely wild as Clark handed his Gibson SG to the fan, and the band started “Numb” a second time. It was pure joy seeing the smile on everyone’s face as the adrenaline charged guitar slinger played the intro to the song. It was surely a moment he will not soon forget! Eventually Gary got his guitar back and finished the song, but the audience was delighted by what they witnessed.
A few minutes later, after taking a short break, the band returned to the stage to play a couple of encore songs. However, the Austin bluesman had another surprise up his sleeve. This time, as the band prepared to play “Shake”, the last song of the night, Gary invited the distinguished photographer / musician Danny Clinch to play harmonica with the band. Clinch obliged and quickly jumped into action, and together they closed the show with a perfect blues jam.
Gary Clark Jr. will continue to tour through several cities in the U.S. with a last show scheduled for October 1st in Tulsa, OK.
Next Door Neighbor Blues
Ain’t Messin’ ‘Round
When My Train Pulls In
Please Come Home
You Saved Me
Things Are Changin’
TheWaster.com | Asbury Park