By Anita Stewart and Chyrisse Tabone, Editors
Venue: Murray Theatre at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida-March 17, 2023
Well, forget St. Patty’s Day, at least for this particular night–however, we were still wearing the green. Rock at Night got to experience this high-energy show at a small, intimate venue, part of the Ruth Eckerd complex, the Murray Theatre. Orange County, California’s Robert Jon and the Wreck arrived fresh off the docks in Miami, after disembarking the Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea Cruise . It is incredible that after a 6-hour drive, they arrived just in time for the sound check and pulled off an amazing 90-minute show.
The evening’s concert was spirited and energetic as the band played as if they were performing at a large amphitheatre to an audience of thousands. Their super-charged performance treated fans to a mix of songs from their recent EP One of a Kind and past favorites.
Guitarist Henry James mesmerized the audience with his blend of wah-wah pedals (“Back Into the Light”), Hendrix-like solos (“Hey Hey Mama”), and slide-guitar (“Rescue”). With his Allman-esque vocals Robert Jon Burrison had the crowd singing along to the chorus of “Miss Carolina” and often performed twin-guitar solos with James (shades of Dickey Betts and Duane Allman). Drummer Andrew Espantman was smiling and in the zone during “High Time” and appreciated the spotlight during his solo in “Miss Carolina,” saying, “Hey, lighting guys! You are doing good!”
Bassist Warren Murrel swayed with the beat, looking cool in his dark shades and ripping it up on “Shine a Light on Me, Brother.” Kudos to Jake Abernathie on the keys, whose solos on “High Time,” “Rescue,” and “Hey Hey Mama” added the perfect touch of funkiness.
Between songs, Burrison chatted about the band “trying to find a gator for Warren to see” and also greeted fans who joined him from the blues cruise.
The highlight of the evening was “Cold Night” with its jazzy intro, twin-guitar sound, hints of Marshall Tucker and “Freebird-like” outro. The song melded into an epic jam, focusing on each player as they dueled and performed solos. The band left the stage at this point, only to be summoned back after the crowd stood at attention, cheering and clapping. The encore consisted of “Last Light on the Highway” Parts 1 and 2, another crowd favorite that garnered a standing ovation.
Even after traveling and performing a mind-blowing show, the band was generous to sign albums and greet fans in the lobby. We even had incredible conversations about Florida, traveling, Walter Trout, Eastman guitars, and alligators.
Overall, the evening exceeded our expectations of wanting to see them live for the last few years. It was a memorable and intimate evening of high-driving rock, solid blues, and southern rock charm (even if it came from Southern California).
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Rock At Night has been reviewing Robert Jon and the Wreck’s music since 2023–and covering gigs post-COVID in the UK. Our Amsterdam correspondent just reviewed the band’s 4 song EP “One of a Kind” that was released several months ago and you can check that out HERE. Continuing their tour will keep the band busy for the next few months; they will also be joining up to support another Southern Rock favorite, Blackberry Smoke. They are coming to your town–see their tour info HERE and be sure to get your tickets early.
Pain No More
Do You Remember
Come at Me
Into the Light
Hey Hey Mama
Oh Miss Carolina
Waiting for Your Man
Shine a Light On Me, Brother
Last Light on the Highway