Eric Gales and Dom Martin in Chester, UK: An evening of high quality blues

Live Review

Eric Gales Band. Photo by Terry Marland.

By Terry Marland, Rock At Night Wales

Live Review: Eric Gales and Dom Martin at The Live Rooms Chester, Chester, UK – June 4, 2022

Eric Gales. Photo by Terry Marland.

Eric Gales latest album Crown has placed him firmly at the forefront of contemporary blues guitarists. The album was produced with Joe Bonamassa who describes Gales as “The best blues-rock guitarist today.  Accolades don’t come much higher than that and it’s easy to see why this gig has been so eagerly anticipated. With support coming from Irish bluesman Dom Martin it’s a high pedigree line up.

Dom Martin delivers an excellent set dominated by songs from his most  recent album release A Savage Life. Winner of  UK Blues Awards for Blues Instrumentalist and Acoustic Blues Artist of the year 2022 he gives a compelling  performance more than ably assisted by Dave Thompson on bass and Laurence McKeown on drums.  While receiving  deserved recognition for his instrumental talents, his bluesy vocals are a perfect accompaniment to his stellar playing and resonate particularly on the highly atmospheric “Blues on the Bay” and “Drink in Blue Colours”.  Mid set Martin comments that  “I wish I was opening up for Eric Gales on every gig I did” such is the positive reaction of the crowd. A captivating start to the evening.

LaDonna Gales. Photo by Terry Marland.

After a brief intermission Eric Gales’ set begins with an off stage announcement that also opens up the Crown album. “My Name is Eric Gales. Any Questions?”  Clad in his own merch T-shirt and sporting a heavy gold medallion, Gales and his four-piece band set up to deliver a memorable set.

Dom Martin. Photo by Terry Marland.

Gales’ high quality band is made up of his wife LaDonna Gales on percussion and vocals, Smoke Face on bass, Johnathan Lovett on keyboards and Nick Heyes on drums.

The critically acclaimed Crown is an emotionally charged account of the life challenges Gales has encountered including addiction, prejudice and racism. It also deals with the way society reacts to these issues. Tonight’s set draws almost exclusively from the album and is interspersed with Gales passionately relating episodes from his past and thoughts on society today.

Introducing “The Storm” Gales reflects on problems in his homeland and laments on the racial tensions and how they lead to him being judged by his colour. It opens with the poignant lyrics “How can you love what I do but hate who I am?”.  It’s a potent  message, performed with passion and soul, and is followed by the equally powerful “Survivor” that features a stunning guitar solo that spirals and soars.

Smoke Face of Eric Gales Band. Photo by Terry Marland.

La Donna Gales comes to the front of stage to provide vocals for  a beautifully soulful “Take Me Just As I Am”.  Eric explains that the suggestion for her to sing vocals on the track was first made by Joe Bonamassa. The chemistry between La Donna and Eric has been evident all evening but is even more prominent now as they share the spotlight together. It’s a special moment.

The comparisons with Hendrix have been well chronicled and as he works his way through his set you feel that you are in the presence of a guitar great. Gales is keen to stress though that he is not “the next Jimi Hendrix” he is the “next Eric Gales“.

Fair comment.

The set closes with an extended version of “I Want My Crown” before Eric Gales makes his way to a rammed merch stand. It’s been an evening of quality blues and given the number of fans waiting to buy souvenirs and take selfies its fair to say that the audience is more than satisfied.







Terry Marland