Jared James Nichols @ Robin 2, Bilston – 26 October 2015

Supporting the mighty Glenn Hughes on his current European tour is Wisconsin born, Los Angeles based singer-songwriter and guitarist, Jared James Nichols who is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the blues rock arena.

At the ripe age of 25, Jared James Nichols guitar playing has been described by many as “raw, raucous and real”, sharing the stage with Buddy Guy, “Big Jim” Johnson and opening up for the likes of ZZ Top and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. So it’s no real surprise to find the Robin 2 packed out early on tonight.

Kick-ass, groove-laden blues rock is what Jared and his band are all about. From the off, with the fast-paced ‘Blackfoot’ the guy is full of energy, throwing himself around with his lion’s mane of blonde locks, it’s clear he’s an outstanding guitarist. Along with the solid backing of Erik Sandin (bass) and Dennis Holm (drums), the band unleash a vibrant assault on the Bilston crowd.

Of course, when press surrounding you includes a bunch of name dropping associations, not least Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington inviting you on stage to play lead guitar during ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, it goes without saying there will be interest in you. However, between songs Nichols is both humble and thankful to everybody for being there, which only serves to increase the love the black country crowd shower upon him.

With the Southern Rock flavours of ‘Crazy’ and ‘Haywire’ mixed up with covers of Rick Derringer’s classic ‘Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo’ and Robert Johnson’s ‘Come On in My Kitchen’, Nichols shows how to express and deliver the blues in a jaw-dropping performance well beyond his years. His voice is weathered and gravelly, so it too speaks the same emotion as his guitar playing, all combining to be reminiscent of somebody as influentially styled as the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan.

From the debut EP ‘Old Glory and the Wild Revival’ comes the funky and boogie-listic number ‘Can You Feel it?’ and to finish up there’s a storming cover of Mountain’s classic ‘Mississippi Queen’, which completes for everybody here – what is evidently a showcase of a special individual and a fantastic band.

As Jared jumps off stage to exit, there’s nobody here who wants him to leave. They can wait a little longer for Glenn, there has to be more of Jared James Nichols for them doesn’t there? Unfortunately not, but I expect this is exactly how every gig on this tour ends, with the crowd craving for more, and that can’t be a bad thing for anybody involved.

It’s not too often a support show has the same effect I witnessed this evening – where there’s “a feeling” amongst the audience about what they have just experienced. If you’re a guitar influenced individual with a chance to check out a Jared James Nichols gig – no matter how inspired you already are, this guy has the potential to push you on just that little bit more.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

Jared James Nichols