KARL BLAU at De Roode Bioscoop in Amsterdam

Karl Blau is a musician who encompasses Country, Rock and Folk and has released more than 40 records in 20-odd years. This is a musician who has clearly honed his craft, touring all over the world and playing over a thousand live shows, but he still admits tonight to being “very nervous.”

This is not the first time Karl has performed in Amsterdam, yet it is his first gig in De Roode Bioscoop: a former Socialist cinema built in 1913.  The 45-seater venue allowed for an intimacy between Blau and the audience, and this intimacy was heightened by the set up: one man and his guitar. No band, and surprisingly, no microphone. The singer admitted to being in awe of this magical venue and for the duration of the gig time seem to stand still with the hushed audience captivated by his soulful country voice. The choice to perform so simply highlighted Blau’s natural ability as his voice effortlessly soared through the songs.

Opening with a cover of Don Gibson’s 1972 classic ‘Woman (Sensuous Woman)’ from Blau’s 2015 album ‘Introducing Karl Blau,’ he swiftly moved through a wide range of songs, including the mournful  ‘Blue As My Name’ from his most recent LP release ‘Out Her Space’ (2017) and ‘Six White Horses:’ a haunting rendition he performed a capella, creating a whole new dimension to this wistful song.

After a short break he opened the second half with a yearningly beautiful performance of ‘That’s How I Got To Memphis;’ a cover of Tom. T Hall’s 1968 country classic, followed by his most famous track: a cover of Link Wray’s 1971 ballad ‘Fallin’ Rain:’ both taken from his 2015 LP. Blau seemed more relaxed now, playfully describing the music scene in his American hometown Anacortes, Washington; charming the audience with his self-deprecating humour.

After asking the audience to call out any favourite tracks he performed requests including ‘Erica,’ ‘Crashing Waves’ and a cover of Tom Rush’s folk classic ‘No Regrets’ from 1968. Blau ended the gig with the Bee Gee’s 1967 hit ‘To Love Somebody,’ once again proving his ability to turn a much-loved classic into an almost unrecognisable song.

After the gig Blau sat in the bar, happily drawing portraits of gig goers on request. Blau won the audience over in Amsterdam: a mesmerising performer with a unique and eclectic talent as a musician, and also as it turns out, as an artist.   Bryony Cole   6th March 2018