Paul Carella - The Water Rats
Playing without support, essentially tonight was one elongated set from Paul Carella although conveniently it divided up into two parts, solo and with band with 10 songs in each section with a couple of encores thrown in for good measure. Starting off in impressive style with "Chasing Echoes", showing his deep growl of a voice to be in fine fettle. The evening was to be splattered with bluesy songs "Drifting Blues" being one of the more traditional attempts and got us into a suitably mellow mood. There were a few covers in this section "The Weary Kind" from the "Crazy Heart" Soundtrack was exceptionally well received while "Colder Weather", a Zac Brown cover was all the more inspired for having spent time with him in South Carolina last year - it completely silenced the venue and was an absolute triumph. Paul will have a new album out later this year and we got a taster of one song to be on it, "I Tried" being played live for the first time, was probably my favourite song of this opening section along with "Colder Weather", it was a light country tune with an almost Springsteenish feel about it, strangely more Brucelike than a cover of "I'm On Fire" earlier in the set! If the bar for the album is set at that level it promises to be something special when it arrives. Closing out this section was last years number one single "My Little Lady", sadly the band had not had a chance to learn this one yet so we got an acoustic version rather than a full on blues blast, but there was still enough of a swampy blues feel about it to make it another highlight.
For the second half Paul was joined by an electric guitarist, drums and bass to fill out the sound. It was the first time i'd seen Paul with a band and they immediately got the room dancing. Songs like "Electric To Touch", and "Gettin' Outta Of Here Alive" showed them to be a rocking pop country combo. To show they could mix things up "Damage Is Done" saw things slow down and came with a great guitar solo, these versions all had a great vibrancy about them, "Never Miss A Show" was another great addition to this section. It is hard to convey just how much enjoyment there was at this show, proper dancing the likes of which I cannot recall seeing for a long time, whether it be to a thumping "These Streets" or the mass singalong of "Fulsom Prison Blues". During "Don't Need No Doctor", another bluesy song built around a fantastic riff, curiosity got the better of Paul and he left the stage and went with guitar into the audience and sat and watched the band as they continued playing. I'm not sure if it was intended as part of the main set or whether it was just because there was such a party atmosphere occurring but things closed out with "Wagon Wheel", by no means the definitive version but who cares, the roof of the Water Rats was well and truly lifted!
There was no way that Paul was going to be allowed to leave without his signature song and the second encore of "Red Sole Woman" can only be described as a floor filling singalong, a good time was had by all and keep an eye out for that new album when it comes.