At the age of 15, the Belfast born Simon McBride won the hotly-contested Young Guitarist of the Year competition and has been described as the next Irish guitar hero following in the path of Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore. This was the first time I’d seen him live so was looking forward to see if he warranted the praise and comparison with the Irish guitar heroes of the past.
The Garage was considerably under capacity but as the woman said to me at the merchandise stall it just means everybody needs to shout a bit louder; so we did. The set opened with a couple of tracks from his new album “Crossing The Line”, Lead Us Away and Go Down Gamblin’ . The latter becoming a firm favorite of mine straight away. He is adequately supported on stage by bass player Carl Harvey and drummer Paul Hamilton. The set continues with new material (Alcatraz) and old favorites from his back catalogue (Down By The River, So Much Love to Give). McBride is not only a brilliant guitarist but he is also blessed with a great voice and quality material. So why is he not a household name? I’m mystified to know but enjoying every minute of the performance.
To show his range of guitar playing McBride plays two solo acoustic pieces, “A Rock & A Storm” and “Devil’s Road”, which are well received by the appreciative audience who are by now hanging on every note. Then it’s back to the electric for some great blues on “Rich Man Falling” and “Down to the Wire”. The encore includes a Jimi Hendrix cover “Little Wing” and “Dead Man Walking” from the “Since Then” album.
What a brilliant night and what a special talent Simon McBride is. It’s 10 out of 10 from me. If you like the blues this is the man for you. Take my tip; go and see him now before the secrets out and he’s playing the O2!!