KRIS BARRAS BAND / GRAINNE DUFFY – The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 12.02.19



So many great bands on tour at the moment so it was off to Nottingham again for me to catch KRIS BARRAS BAND on their current run of 20 dates throughout the UK.

I caught up quickly with Kris before the show only to find him full of cold. “The whole band have got it, we had a day off and then all came back rotten”.  Not ideal 5 dates into the tour, but Kris is positive he will be fine for tonight’s performance.

Opening the evening was Irish Blues Songstress GRAINNE DUFFY. I was new to her music and very pleasantly surprised.  She has a lovely gravely huskiness to her voice and her guitar skills were way more than proficient.

Beginning her set with ‘Each & Every Time’, Duffy, accompanied by Paul Sherry on acoustic guitar, took us through a set of seven songs including a very beautiful version of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ which brought whoops and cheers from the crowd who had packed the room right from the start, enthralled by her performance.  Punchy upbeat blues numbers and more sedate lounge blues combined to ensure a great start to the night.

The smoke on the stage drifted out over the barrier as the KRIS BARRAS BAND began with ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Through My Veins’ from the ‘Lucky 13’ album, followed swiftly by ‘Kick Me Down’ from last years album ‘The Divine and Dirty’.  I had asked Kris about the success of the album almost 12 months from its release and he said: “its been amazing, the response has been fantastic and gained us a lot of new fans.”

‘Stitch Me Up’ has everyone enthralled by the performance.  Barras, Josiah Manning on keyboards, Elliot Blacker, bass, and Will Beavis on drums are scorching the stage with their energy and passion. ‘I Don’t Owe Nobody Nothing’ continues the blues before Barras pauses for breath and a chat, You can hear he is full of cold when he talks but amazingly up to that point, I’d forgotten he was ill other than the odd cough away from the mic.

He seems to be genuinely happy to be in Nottingham and says as much, apologising for being below par.  The sweat standing out on his brow, he doesn’t pause for long as he introduces the band and then recommences the set.

The setlist tonight also contains some new material. “The new album is recorded, we did it over Christmas period, the release date isn’t decided yet so we are going to be looking towards the autumn” Kris had said to me earlier and now I have heard some of the tracks, I for one can’t wait.  It’s going to be a stunning album!  The melodies are strong, the lyrics are catchy and the guitar solos are a flood of intricacies and clever riffs, it all seems to come so natural to Barras.  Speaking of guitars, we saw several stunning looking and sounding guitars as Barras swapped between them during the set, each having a different tone, and in Kris’ expert hands sounding immense. 

We are treated to both keys and drums solos perfectly executed by musicians at the top of their game.  The setlist reaches out across both albums plus so much new music.  Perfect.

For those who had not seen the band play live before, Barras explained the back story behind ‘Watching Over Me’, written for his father who had inspired him to pick up the guitar when he was 5 and as a musician himself, had played bass in Kris’s band.  Kris lost him to cancer.   It was one of the songs I had been waiting with anticipation for but also knew it would rip me apart emotionally.  It’s a song very close to my heart and yet again Barras allowed the guitar to blend with his own emotions, becoming one and just crucifying everyone in the room with his exposed soul.  Looking around at so many glistening cheeks and hands pawing at eyes, it touches many people’s hearts obviously.  It isn’t just the lyrics that hit a nerve, it’s the passion in the playing. Pure emotion played with a ferocity, an anger, a passion, it is so hard to explain how this song gets to you when played live. 

Thankfully allowing us all to compose ourselves and mashing it back into the blues with  ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’ the pace picking up and the mood-lifting in time with the music.

As the band departed after the main set, no one was going anywhere.  What did everyone want to hear? Of course! ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Lovers & Losers’.  With Barras having given everything to tonight’s performance, the crowd willingly helped him out with every word of both songs.  What an atmosphere! The room packed out even across the balcony, no one leaving until the very end. 

Hat’s off to you all tonight, the band for just playing superbly despite all suffering from the lurgy, Kris, who I have no idea how he got through the entire set with as much gusto as he did, a consummate professional who gave everything, but also the fans.  Lovely genuine fans who really made the night, a fabulous one.

Catch the guys on one of their remaining dates.  This has to be one of the gigs of the year and we are only into February!

With lots more dates on this tour plus summer festival appearances on the cards with dates over here in the UK at Ramblin’ Man Fair, Rock & Blues Custom Show to name a couple and European festivals too around Germany, Switzerland, France, it is going to busy for the band.

I asked Kris about his ambitions for next year, he seems a pretty humble guy.  “It’s just to keep going and do what we do really, to grow the fan base. If you had asked me what my plan was this time last year, it would not have included 95% of what I’ve got to do in the past 12 months.  I would not have been able to predict this.  I don’t know – just take one day at a time and keep trying to grow the fan base.”

I think that is a certainty Kris!