Photos and review by Randy Jarosz
Gary Clark Jr. has been referred to as the chosen one. He’s got it all. He can sing, he’s got swagger, a super model wife and he can shred on guitar. It may seem like an overnight success but Clark had been paying his dues on the live scene well before his major label debut album “Blak and Blu.” His skills were on display Sunday night at Mr. Smalls Theater, a much larger crowd than his 2011 appearance at Hard Rock Café Pittsburgh. Clark was on break from opening shows for Kings of Leon during the Mechanical Bull Tour, only one of three off dates. Local Pittsburgh up and comers Grand Piano provided the opening entertainment.
Gary Clark Jr. and his band trotted to the stage with a flashlight leading the way. When stage lights lit Clarks face he glanced at the sold out crowd and flashed a grin. Clark immediately began with the Robert Petway Cover “Catfish Blues,” a mainstay at his live performances . Dressed in black weathered boots, black jeans, black leather jacket and black tossle cap, the Grammy Award winner continued to thrill with “Travis County.” Turning Mr. Smalls into a juke joint Clark slowed down the pace with a cover of B.B. King’s 3 O’Clock Blues. Continuing to pay respect to blues legends Clark played an Albert Collins cover of “Oh, Pretty Women (Can’t Make You Love Me).” “You Alright,” says Clark as the crowd erupts into cheers, before breaking into “When My Train Pulls In.” Eric “King” Zapata added in on rhythm guitar while Johnny Bradley held down bass duties. A showman himself drummer Johnny Radelat could be seen bobbing his head with a drum stick in his mouth at times. “Here’s something soft and sweet for you,” said Clark as he crooned with “Please Come Home.” Clark showed off his harmonica skills during his encore with the Leroy Carr cover “In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down).” Clark continued with his R&B flavored “You Saved Me,” and finished off his electric set with “Numb.”
After this show it is evident why Clark is considered the chosen one. In a music business that lacks this generation’s B.B. King, Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker we are witnessing a come back of new wave blues. If you caught this show, it may just be the last time you’ll catch this superstar in such an intimate setting.