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Sunshine - Spitz, London, 8/4/2005

  by Daniel Cressey

published: 22 / 4 / 2005

Sunshine - Spitz, London, 8/4/2005


Dan Cressey watches T Model Ford live up to his reputation as "the boss of the blues" by putting on a sprightly performance at the London Spitz's new Festival of Blues

On paper at least, T Model Ford should be the highlight of the Spitz Festival of Blues. To add to the pressure, tonight is co-sponsored by Not The Same Old Blues Crap so everyone is expecting something special. Not that this man has anything to prove. It’s already late when Ford ambles onto stage. He may be a small, old man looking at least 70 but anyone expecting a short and slow set of blues staples is going to be surprised. Although there are blues staples aplenty, age has done nothing to shorten, slow or otherwise mellow Ford. He may be old and old-school, but only in the way that being smacked in the head with a club is old-school compared to being shot. Although there is something brutal about Ford’s performance it is a totally expert brutality. Ford may have been playing for a hundred years (rounding up) but he chucks out blues riffs like he’s being doing it for a thousand. The casual disregard for his material marks the difference between a man who has truly understood what it’s all about and the young pretenders who struggle to make sure every chord is perfect. There is no contempt in Ford’s treatment of the blues though. He may only sing when he feels like it, he may play the same song three times over the course of the evening but it is all done with a huge smile on his face, one mirrored by the appreciative audience. Every song he plays could have come from the start of the last century – as it seems could Ford himself. As it gets later and he tells us again that he is “the boss of the blues” it becomes impossible to doubt him. The young crowd are unable to compete with Ford’s stamina. “Let it all hang in,” he tells us before launching into another classic, “’cause once you let it hang out you’ll never get it in again.” By midnight he still seems as sprightly as when he came on, although the crowd has dwindled. By the time he finishes at well past one only a fraction of the original audience remain. A sad indictment of the stamina of the London music scene and a testimony to the staying power of true legend.

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