Who: Walter Trout, Freeman-Hale
Where: The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA
When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022
Next: Walter Trout will be touring throughout California and the West Coast of the U.S. in March 2023 before heading to Europe in May 2023
Review by Robert Kinsler
Photography by Bob Steshetz
Walter Trout brought his groundbreaking brand of hard hitting blues to The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday night for the first of two shows at the concert venue. A homecoming stop for the 71-year-old Trout — a long-time resident of nearby Huntington Beach — area fans filled The Coach House to catch a two-hour set that highlighted the singer-songwriter/guitar great's original material.
|From left, Teddy "Zig Zag" Andreadis, Walter Trout, Michael Leasure and John Avila.|
Backed by his incredible three-man band (long-time drummer Michael Leasure, keyboardist Teddy "Zig Zag" Andreadis and bassist John Avila of Oingo Boingo fame), Trout featured material off his 2022 album Ride. His first album since 2020, Ride is notable for its moving material looking at the artist's life — a mix of intoxicating highs and challenging lows.
|Walter Trout at The Coach House.|
|Bassist John Avila and Walter Trout|
A survivor of life-threatening liver disease who spent months in a hospital bed while losing 120 pounds and even the ability to walk, Trout's long recovery began when he had a successful liver transplant in May 2014. Trout's miraculous return to the stage (he had to regain his ability to speak, walk and play guitar following the transplant eight years ago) adds a palpable power every time he performs and that was definitely the case on Saturday night.
|Drummer Michael Leasure behind the drum kit.|
After an introduction by his wife Marie Trout just after 9 p.m., Trout opened with "I Can Tell," a forceful blues-rocker that played out over eight minutes — the first three minutes or so a blistering display of Trout's masterful fretwork on his electric guitar.
"This is a homecoming for us and it's so great to be back," Trout said after that opener.
After performing an explosive "Wanna Dance" from his 2020 album Ordinary Madness, Trout noted that Ride is his 30th solo album and "We're going to do a lot of songs from that record."
|Keyboardist Teddy "Zig Zag" Andreadis|
As part of his performance of the new selections, Trout would often provide details into the genesis of each song. In his introduction of "Waiting for the Dawn," he noted he wrote it in a hotel home at 4 a.m. while unable to sleep, he noted: "I was missing my beautiful wife." A beautiful blues ballad, Trout's signature vocals were positioned amidst artful licks with the exception of a powerful guitar solo that elevated the middle of the track.
The driving "Ride" (a song rooted in Trout's desire to escape a troubled home life when he was a boy growing up in New Jersey), searing "Ghosts" (the latter bolstered by appropriately eerie guitar lines), luxurious "Follow You Back Home" and high octane blues rocker "I Worry Too Much" were other shining songs from Ride. "High Is Low" featured a guest turn from blues harmonica great Bob Landgraff and a blistering solo from Trout. "Destiny" was a gentle ballad, featuring some of Trout's most emotive vocals of the night.
Another standout moment was a performance of "Red Sun," a hard melodic rocker where Trout used cascading waves of feedback to introduce his memorable guitar solo.
This was definitely a homecoming show to remember.
|Freeman-Hale opened the night with a 45-minute set of Chicago blues.|
Opening the night was the local quintet Freeman-Hale, featuring singer-harmonica player Tricia Freeman and guitarist Kenny Hale. The troupe delivered a set of Chicago blues-minded material honoring the spirit and stylings of the originals, notably Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Workin'," the blues standard "Sweet Home Chicago," the Big Mama Thornton classic "Hound Dog" and B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby."
|Walter Trout, left, with bassist John Avila.|
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