Best of 2021: Last night (October 27) Gary Clark Jr. took the stage at the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Having run through a setlist boasting a dozen choice cuts from 2019's This Land, 2015's The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, 2012's Blak and Blu, and more, Clark invited fellow blues guitar hero Eric Gales onto the stage for a set-closing rendition of Clark's When My Train Pulls In.
What ensued is a jaw-dropping run of lead guitar playing that truly has to be seen to be believed.
Gales patiently awaits his turn while Clark runs through the tune, focusing on supple rhythm work and textural flourishes, and even letting Clark's rhythm guitarist, King Zapata, take the first solo, which – contributing a biting piece of giddy high-gain glory to the proceedings – Zapata does with relish.
At about 5:30 though, Clark turns things over to his special guest, who – over the course of the next five minutes – puts on what can only be described as a one-man blues soloing clinic. Starting things off slow and jazzy, Gales works up an unstoppable head of steam, all but lighting the fretboard on fire by solo's end.
It's the sort of legend-making performance you don't see every day, but perhaps – after his just-as-amazing viral demo of the MXR Raw Dawg pedal in June – it's the sort of unforgettable display of passion and technical skill we should be getting used to from the Memphis native.
Gales' forthcoming Josh Smith and Joe Bonamassa-produced album, Crown, is set for a January 28 release via Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group.
It was previewed last week with I Want My Crown, a hard-charging tune that doubled as a dazzling six-string heavyweight battle between Gales and Joe Bonamassa.