Walter Trout ALIVE In Amsterdam on 180g 3LP + Download
ALIVE in Amsterdam is the sound of a man announcing his resurrection after a period on the ropes. As Walter Trout's army of international fans are painfully aware, recent times have taken the bandleader to the brink, following a bleak diagnosis of life-threatening liver failure and hepatitis C in 2013. Trout's rebirth began with a successful transplant in May 2014, and gathered pace with 2015's Battle Scars: the acclaimed studio album that channeled his near-death experience into raw autobiographical songs.
Walter has never sounded so alive. The date is November 28th, 2015. The location is Amsterdam's opulent Royal Theatre Carré. And the occasion is a live performance of the blues-rock legend at full-throttle. "We were rocking," remembers Trout of the comeback concert captured on ALIVE in Amsterdam. "If people are expecting a laid-back show, that's not what they'll get. This is potent stuff..."
Yet for this lifelong road-warrior, a return to the stage was always the ultimate goal. And last summer, as Trout headed out on a comeback tour that blew the roof off venues from the Royal Albert Hall to Buddy Guy's Legends club in Chicago, every fan in the house saw that the man wasn't just back, he was better than ever. "That whole tour was kinda triumphant for me," Trout reflects. "Just to be back, after what I went through. But also to be playing with a renewed energy and commitment. I'd gone through a few years of symptoms where I'd get hand-cramps, dizzy spells and chronic fatigue onstage. It was a struggle. On this last tour, I wasn't struggling. We were having a great time. We couldn't stop. 'ALIVE in Amsterdam' captures the atmosphere."
Trout himself hits the stage like a wrecking-ball, opening with an scorching burst of solo guitar ("Sometimes, when I get up there, I have so much energy that I'm bursting out of my skin"). When he launches into the set, meanwhile, all bets are off. "We never have a setlist," explains the frontman of his seat-of-the-pants interplay with drummer Michael Leasure, keyboards ace Sammy Avila and bassist Johnny Griparic. "We play very spontaneously, and I gauge it by the crowd and how the show is going."
With songs pulled from every era of his five-decade career, the ALIVE in Amsterdam set is potent stuff indeed, from the stinging Luther Allison cover "I'm Back," to the plaintive B.B. King tribute "Say Goodbye To The Blues," which builds from neck-tingling guitar swells to a stunning virtuoso climax. Battle Scars is well-represented by the harmony-bolstered rocker "Almost Gone" and the raucous "Tomorrow Seems So Far Away," while Trout is joined by his son Jon for "Rock Me Baby," and even finds time for a fistful of fan favorites, including "The Love That We Once Knew" and "Marie's Mood."