It’s a hot, rainy, humid night in Dublin, perhaps not all that dissimilar to the Savannah conditions Mac Rebennack, better known to the world as Dr. John, would be used to in his native New Orleans. There’s a palpable buzz around the sold-out venue, an air of expectation that this is going to be something special. We’re dealing with a septuagenarian living legend after all: the Gris Gris man, the Night Tripper himself.
After a jolly acoustic piano opening support set from the main attraction’s touring keyboard player Jon Cleary, the good Dr and the Lower 911 take the stage and own it for the next hour and a half. Dressed in a shiny vermillion suit, his walking cane adorned with various charms, the centre of attention epitomises dignified insouciance. The set kicks off with ‘Revolution’ from recent album Locked Down. Produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, the set list includes a generous helping of songs from this collection with ‘Ice Age’, ‘Big Shot’ and the title track itself all featuring, the latter as part of an extended encore.
The band are seriously tight and loose at the same time (if you get my drift), the brass section of trombone and baritone sax particularly effective when soloing. Conversation is kept to a minimum, apart from an amusing riff about time done on ‘psych wards’, and the blues/jazz/funk gumbo simmers effortlessly. Other highlights include covers of Eddie Cantor’s ‘Making Whoopie’ and Leadbelly’s ‘Goodnight Irene’, plus the inevitable closer ‘Such A Night’.
Reviewing a Dr. John gig is kind of akin to reviewing a show by, say, Bruce Springsteen: you know it’s going to be good, and if you don’t think this kind of stuff is good, then you probably shouldn’t be there in the fist place. There’s a reason the good Doctor is a star. In fact, there are many. The man drips charisma, and has talent to burn. We should all be so cool at 71.