After 18 months of separation from performing on stage, Gary Clark Jr. made his way to Dallas from his native Austin to begin a three-night stand at the House of Blues. Though we are in state that we can attend live music, there were still multiple safeguards in place to help alleviate fears and concern in regard to Covid. There were no meet and greets, the venue encouraged mask wearing, staff were hard at work cleaning as the night went on, but the one thing that shined through was the excitement to see a live show.
Gary Clark Jr. is a master bluesman, so his shows in the DFW area are always special considering the pedigree that this area has in the blues (from Blind Lemon and Lead Belly playing Deep Ellum in the early 1900’s to Stevie Ray Vaughn learning how to play guitar in his bedroom in Oak Cliff in the 1970’s). Dallas has always had a soul screaming out through its music.
Clark and his four-piece band took the stage and tore into what is considered his signature song, “Bright Lights,” with many in the crowd playing along every note on their air guitars. The stage setup was something you would find in a club with large round lights at back illuminating the band and creating a silhouette of each musician in blue light.
As the set moved along, he moved frequently around the stage, showcasing his guitar skills and interacting with the crowd. Clark and his band work together like a well-oiled machine, and just as important, seem to have a lot of fun performing together. Each member of the band got to stretch out a bit to display their considerable musicianship. There are clearly no free rides in this band.
The night kept going as he played a few more songs from his prior albums, such as “When I’m Gone.” Midway through the show he slowed things down with his passionate love song, “Our Love.” The slow-tempo song swept you into instant romance, followed by “You Saved Me,” a straight shot to the heart. The night came to a close with another signature song, “Pearl Caddy,” before the encore of “Guitar Man,” “Catfish Blues,” and “When My Train Pulls In.”
This was an explosive show from an artist that many feel is the future of Texas Blues. But, you did not need to be a music or blues aficionado to have enjoyed this performance or his music in general. This is the type of music that you feel deep inside. Music that moves you and makes you respond from your soul.
– Robb Miller