Well, after a long absence of mine I'm back here to review CR's Budapest gig.
So, the date is 4th February, Thursday, the venue is Budapest Sport Arena transformed into a capacity of 4,000 - only seating places. The show is sold out.
Paul Casey started the evening at 19:40, alone on stage with a single acoustic guitar. He played four songs in a very enjoyable manner, his performance lasted until 20:10.
After a short break, at 20:20 the lights went out and the black curtain hanging in the background fell down, revealing the three huge blue guitars hanging in the front of the cover painting of Blue Guitars. Chris and his band, Robert Ahwai, Martin Ditcham, Sylvin Marc and Neil Drinkwater, supported by Paul Casey walked onto stage and as they started I Can't Wait For Love
, some another neon-green guitar shapes sparkled on up in the air; very similar to 2008's set decoration. During the gig the paintings changed continuously depending on the songs' atmosphere.
CR, wearing his trademark Jazzee Blue vest, was a bit unsure with his vocals in the first two tracks but found his tones for Where The Blues Come From
which was directly linked at the end to Josephine. Chris and Neil Drinkwater did great solos one after the other in this two.
In Easy Rider
, supported by his sparkling blue Maranello, CR played amazing slide guitar with a lot of glass notes; many times pulling the slide right until his picking hand.
Then he changed to Fender Thinline for the great, emotional intro of Til The Morning
, just like he did four years ago.
Next song Looking For The Summer
was a bit radio-like to me. Julia
was played in a totally new version once again, closer to the 2008 version than the arpeggio one of the Farewell tour. It was rougher and longer with vocal improvisation by Chris and some keyboard solo in the end.
, well, it's the fifth live version of the song I've heard and I can tell you this was the best version ever! Lasted for almost ten minutes CR did an awesome job with the solos... after singing "Let's go dancin'..." he indeed went on dancing down with the Maranello - in fact, the best version ever.
I really missed I Can Hear Your Heartbeat from the set list but later happily discovered that the live version of Electric Guitar
was mainly built on the foundations of that song; great version, very-very different from the album version.
Come So Far
... one of the highlights of the night. Martin did a very aggressive job on drums, playing the fours on the lower toms so our seats were trembling all through the song. CR sang his heart out in this one, you could see on him that he really meant it was still so far to go... his performance was absolutely cathartic for me.
Following the title track, Highway 61 & 49
ruled the stage with breathtaking solos at the end... Chris started, Drinkwater continued, then Chris once again. I have to tell you, I always preferred Paul Hirsch on keyboard and wasn't carried away by enthusiasm with Drinkwater's keyboards in 2008, but while listening to that solo I bowed down and took my hat off to Mr. Drinkwater.
I was very happy that Sylvin's in the band once again, I always thought he could give a bit of a push to CR while they're together on stage. It happened so this time as well, when they fooled around and danced a lot together in Stainsby Girls
(which is one of my all-time favorites and this year's version was even more awesome than before, played on Pinky that was tuned in a more richer and louder way than usual).
The last track before the encores was, of course, The Road To Hell
. The whole stage went black while the solitary red-light lamp descended slowly, illuminating only CR soloing with his sparkling red Maranello. The solos were tremendous once again, completely made the hair on my back stand up.
Two encore songs came after a minute of break; On The Beach
with a great, very Dire Straits-like solo from Robert then the band closed the evening with Let's Dance
. Chris played on Bluey, danced a lot and made the audience sing the line "Never - never too old to dance". The six left the stage waving goodbye in a neverending round of applause and cheering.
CR used six guitars on stage: Italia Maranello sparkling blue, Italia Maranello sparkling red, Pinky, Bluey, Telecaster Thinline and a custom sunburst Stratocaster equipped with humbucker pickups. He used this last one for rougher tones e.g. in Julia or Josephine.
Regarding the solos, Chris and Neil Drinkwater bear the brunt of them, Robert did only one solo in On The Beach. In the rhythm section Sylvin, as I've written above, did a great job once again; and Martin was amazing on his drums, making the foundations of the house shake. Only Paul Casey was a bit unnoticeable, playing some rhythm on two Strats and doing some backing vocals in Come So Far and Let's Dance. Though his presence was quite useful, since CR didn't have to take care of playing rhythm guitar so he could pay much more attention for the solos than in the previous years.
Sound engineering had a few problems, CR's guitar went excited sometimes, especially in the roughest solos and Chris had a bit of a disagreement in Come So Far when he had to wave intensively, indicating he wants Sylvin's and Paul's microphones louder instead of his guitar.
Well, enough saying, you can find some great videos on YouTube; Stony Road is highly advised! The tracklist is the very same you can find here.
In fact, make ready because this will be a VERY LOUD Chris Rea concert
All the best,
ps. Somebody please record Come So Far live