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gig report: ALVARIUS B + FAT GRAY CAT - VALLEY BAR, PHOENIX, 28.4.2018

Gigs in Phoenix are like buses in England. You wait fucking ages then they all come at once. A day after Six Organs of Admittance you get Alvarius B. I'd prefer a little more room to manouvre but no way was I going to miss either. Opening we had local legends Fat Gray Cat doing a special set with three acoustic guitars, two percussionists (one of which was Eddy Detroit), a drummer and one hell of a singer. Like Grateful Dead without the hippy stuff or like Santana produced by punks not studio cokeheads. Beautifully fierce.

Where to begin with Alavrius B? His songwriting skills? His vicious gift as an interpreter of others work? His guitar playing? His mighty pipes? His dark, sardonic humour? If you miss any of those, you miss everything for all are vital elements in the Alvarius B equation. His own songs are magnificently bleak, bitter and witty but on the other hand he is blessed with the remarkable ability of being able to refine, improve and innovate upon the works of greats like Morricone, and John Barry. He covers 'Gently Johnny' from the extended cut of 'The Wicker Man' (wasn't in the movie in my day) and then does a fake-musical number about Chinese women drivers.

Yes, the humour is dark, fucked up, irreverant and far from politically correct but everyone comes under fire in the Alvarius B world. He's an equal opportunity hater. You'd be wrong to try and frame it as anything else but you should also keep it away from sensitive dears, especially if they come from Anthem. He played for an half and half, never letting up with gold. His evil alter ego Uncle Jim had a monologue and smoking tribute. Dylan got led down a dark alley. The ghost of Frankie Laine emerged victorious from a laptop. A few old Sun City Girls classics leapt out at and the lions share of the recent trilogy of Alvarius B albums reminded us he isn't burning out any time soon. Hurry back soon with the magnificent merch box of yours.

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