Kris Barras has taken a more unusual path than most as he establishes his name as a leading figure in the UK’s blue-rock scene. Until recently he split his time between life on the road as musician and being a professional MMA fighter, with an impressive record of 14 victories and only 2 defeats. Now retired from the cage, he concentrates his fighting spirit on carrying the torch for southern influenced blues. His nationwide headline tour stopped at The Welly Club in Hull for an emphatic night of soaring guitar solos and soulful blues influenced by the likes of Black Stone Cherry and Joe Bonamassa.
The opening act was local band Rivers Johansson & The Deemed Unrighteous whose grunge influenced take on blues captured the audience early on in the night. The moody ‘Hangman’ demanded the attention of the audience with its dark lyrics and heavy riffs combined with classic blues licks.
Up next was Jack J Hutchinson who has joined the Kris Barras Band as support for their nationwide tour. Classic Rock Magazine described him as “Southern-smoked blues-rock with hooks, choruses, the lot”. Hutchinson was a fine choice of support act to get the crowd going. He ripped through a set which included ‘Deal With The Devil’ – an anthemic blues crowd-mover with an instantly memorable chorus.
Rock and Roll Is In My Veins
Kris Barras then appeared on stage with his band. They opened with the irresistibly bluesy ‘Rock and Roll is in my Veins’ from his debut album ‘Lucky 13’. The rest of the set mainly featured tracks from their latest album ‘The Divine and Dirty’. Up next was the album opener ‘Kick Me Down’ where the full band combined to create a swirling frenzy of soulful blues. Similarly, Barras combined his impressive vocals with a virtuosic guitar solo to leave the room breathless.
Throughout his career, Barras has experienced a lifetime’s worth of ups and downs. This is highlighted in the defiant ‘I Don’t Owe Nobody Nothing’ which is a fist-pumping response to his own past struggles with bankruptcy. As he belted out its sing along chorus it became clear that this has become an anthem for his own personal triumphs in the past decade. The crowd joined him in this moment by chanting along to the chorus with him.
The band momentarily moved away from working through their impressive back catalogue in the next two songs. Firstly, the crowd were treated to a taste of his next album (apparently due to be released by the end of this year) with the unreleased ‘What You See Is What You Get’ which features Barras’ now trademark memorable hooks and soaring guitar solos. the audience lapped up this preview of their upcoming material and will surely now be already excited for his third album to be released.
Led Zeppelin Cover
They then followed this with their own version of one of the all-time classic blues-rock songs, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll‘. It takes a lot of confidence to take on such a seminal track. But Kris Barras has earned the right to follow in the footsteps of greats. He has even performed alongside some recently in his shows with ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbon with the Supersonic Blues Machine. Subsequently, it went down a storm as the band faithfully ripped through the track. While also making it their own, with Barras adding his own slide-guitar licks to the guitar solos.
As the set rolled on through more fan favourites such as ‘Heart On Your Sleeve’ and ‘Propane’, the rest of the band began to come into the limelight with impressive solos from Josiah J Manning on keys, Will Beavis on drums and Elliott Blackler on bass throughout the night. While Kris Barras is the centre-piece that the crowds come to see, the rest of the band accompanied him brilliantly. Also he made a point of graciously thanking each member of his band on a number of occasions.
Kris Barras Highlight
After showcasing another new song ‘Light It Up’, the highlight of the night then came with ‘Watching Over Me’. Barras’ slow bluesy tearjerker from his latest album which was written for his late father. As the rest of the band worked through the opening chords, he explained the story of how his father had got him into playing the guitar at a young age but recently passed away suddenly from cancer at the age of 54. Barras’ desperately pleading vocals and heartfelt guitar lines stunned the room into breathlessness. He showed influence of the likes of Gary Moore, who was his father’s favourite guitarist.
Barras then lifted the atmosphere. He answered the crowd’s chants for them to play ‘Hail Mary’, the lead single from their latest album. It features all the ingredients of a classic blues-rock anthem. Barras added to this with his impressive showmanship. Parts of his guitar solos performed behind his head as well as with his teeth to further excite the crowd.
After a brief pause, the band returned to the stage for the final time to treat the crowd to ‘Lovers Or Losers’, which is among the nominees for Planet Rock’s Best British Single award. After a final sing along chorus for the crowd to join in on and one last slide guitar solo by Barras, the band then left the stage to thunderous cheers and applause.
Blues rock may not be the dominant force it once was. However tonight showed that there’s still life in it yet. Furthermore, Kris Barras continues to lead an impressive British resurgence for the genre.