LIVE REPORTWHITE STAGE7/26 FRI
GARY CLARK JR.
A feather in the cap
Delivering on high expectations
A lot is riding on the shoulders of Austin bluesman, Gary Clark Jr. Early in his career he stuck close to the blues playbook, sitting back and sharing the spotlight with a team of crack musicians. But that was 2004, and the Field of Heaven, before the advent of a fierce racial politics in the US. Now, Gary has to carry this extra weight of new found success and expectations groomed from years of travel on the festival circuit. Today, he proved he’s more than up for the challenge with the opening number, “Bright Lights.”
And just like that Gary put his foot down and boogied all over packed audience at the White Stage. He was met with instantaneous applause and joy, with the audience rollicking to each guitar stomp and cymbal crash. Clark’s tempo may have been slower than his recordings, as he chose to draw out each guitar note for maximum resonance. A guitar in his hands even seems small and tiny, a mere toy in the curve of this slender body. He relishes the way it hangs low at his waist, inviting comparisons to Jimi Hendrix or Prince, or the next generation’s guitar god.
Like many artist visiting Japan, Clark is eager to plug his new album and he told the crowd, “today we will do some songs from the new album released this year,” “What About Us”. Then it was “Feed the Baby” and “Low Down Rolling Stone”. Clark was clearly having a good time as he played songs the audience remembered such as “I Got My Eyes on You (Locked & Loaded)” and “Gotta Get Into Something.”
Then he played the race card, throwing down “This Land” which is a response to politics of the day and the challenges that many minorities are facing. He later switched to a flying-V guitar to slow it down with a smooth R&B number “Pearl Cadillac” which was as soulful as anything I have seen in a while. And finally it was an unexpected cover song, “Come Together” by the Beatles which he introduced as a song that he long wanted to play at Fuji Rock. He asked the audience to “please sing along if you like it”. And boy did everyone sing. It was a touching moment that brought everyone of all races together to enjoy your our common love of music and each other.