BEN POOLE - Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Night after night. Regular as clockwork. Walking offstage after every firecracker gig, Ben Poole found himself fielding the same backstage enquiry from another breathless fan: “When are you going to release a live album…?”

You asked for it. And now, by public demand, Manhaton Records presents Live At The Royal Albert Hall: the long-awaited live snapshot that finds Britain’s brightest blues-rock talent blowing the roof off the nation’s best-loved venue. “I’m first and foremost a live performer,” says Ben. “The energy, adrenaline and excitement you can conjure up live is near-impossible to capture in a studio environment. I feel like I come into my own on stage.”

He’d attempted live recordings before, but Ben had always shelved the results, feeling the tapes didn’t quite bottle the blood and thunder. Released on October 6th,Live At The Royal Albert Hall represents the moment when all the pieces fell into place. “When the opportunity came up to release a live album, recorded at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, by none other than the BBC,” says Ben, “we had to do it. The musical history of that building was without a doubt on the mind of every musician in my band that day, and I think it helped us all step up a level and play our hearts out more than ever.”

As the stomping-ground of legends from Cream and Led Zeppelin to B.B. King and Joe Bonamassa, it’s fair to say the Royal Albert Hall is not a venue for lightweights. Though still in his mid-twenties, Ben has surely earned his shot. Starting out as a blues-obsessed teenage gunslinger in Bedfordshire, Ben fused the influences of Eric Clapton, SRV, Jeff Healey and Jimi Hendrix into his signature style, and after a music degree in Brighton, he quickly made waves with his debut EP, Everything I Want, and the bar-raising first album, Let’s Go Upstairs. Having toured the planet and traded licks with Jeff Beck, Gary Moore and Richie Kotzen, the Albert Hall held no fears.

And so, it came to pass that on October 31st, 2013, Ben and his crack band of Craig Bacon (drums), Mat Beable (bass), Sam Mason (keys) and Amy Eftekhari (backup vocals) pulled into London to play the first day of BluesFest 2013. “The Albert Hall gig came towards the end of a very busy year,” Ben recalls, “which had seen me gigging across Europe and America. So the band were on fire, and that really comes across on the album. Personally, I always play at my best when there’s a great atmosphere in the room. There certainly was a special vibe that night – which encouraged me to really give it some!”

It’s a vintage performance. And yet, as anyone who caught the original broadcast on BBC Radio 2’s Paul Jones Show will remember, this show was not just about fist-tight execution, but also the light-footed setlist. It’s a testament to Ben’s songwriting talent that his own originals like Let’s Go Upstairs and It Doesn’t Have To Be That Waystand shoulder-to-shoulder with all-time classics like Otis Redding’s Mr. Pitiful and Billy Myles’ Have You Ever Loved A Woman. Stick around for the encore, too: a studio version of Ben’s latest track, Starting All Over Again, that’s sure to whet the fans’ appetite for his next album.

“I think we picked a good varied set,” he notes. “There are obviously lots of blues and rock elements, but also some soul, funk, gospel and country influences going on. Starting All Over Again is a song we recorded at the start of 2014 as a kind of tester for recording a new studio album. In the meantime, we decided to get this one track out there for everyone to hear!”

As such, Live At The Royal Albert Hall is far more than a mere stopgap. Released on October 6th, this is both a rocket-fuelled thrill-ride through Ben’s best moments to date, and a signpost towards the music still to come. And while you suspect the bandleader will go on to hit even greater heights in his unfolding career, he’ll never forget that night in London. “It was an honour to play in the building that has hosted so many legendary musicians over the years,” he says. “The set itself is actually a bit of a blur. It all went by so quickly – so it’s great to be able to listen back to it…!”

Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Format: CD
Label: Manhaton Records
Release date: 6 October 2014

Track Listings
1. Intro
2. Let’s Go Upstairs
3. Love Nobody No More
4. (I know) I’m Losing You
5. Mr. Pitiful
6. It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way
7. Leave It On
8. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
9. Starting All Over Again

Pre-order your copy today …

– Amazon UK: Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Ben Poole On Tour

6 December 2014 – Reunion Blues Festival, Cafe/Zaal De Reunie, Geleen
22 Februari 2015 – Muziekcafe De Noot, Hoogland/Amersfoort

Ook op Blues Magazine ...