Though almost always well-intentioned, events like this usually don't pan out on record, let alone on DVD. Thankfully, this is not one of those occasions. John Mayall in his 70th Birthday Concert is as spry, ferocious, and on top of his game as ever. There is nothing tired about the presentation or the performances. Mayall's own umpteenth version of the Bluesbreakers is yet another example of his uncanny ability to pick the right cats for the job. They play with plenty of fire, brilliant musicianship, and taste. There are two discs in this package encompassing 19 cuts. The show broke down as follows: the bland play two burning tracks on their own — "Grits Ain't Groceries" and "Jacksboro Highway," — before Mayall joins them for three, including a stunning rendition of "Dirty Water." Mayall then invites Mick Taylor to the stage for no less than four cuts — two of which are "Blues for the Lost Days," and "Oh Pretty Woman." But it gets better. Eric Clapton and Chris Barber join the Bluesbreakers for seven cuts — "Hideaway" (what else?), and a beautiful duet performance of "No Big Hurry" between Eric and John. Both Clapton and Taylor are in hungry, fine form, and hold nothing back. The last finale features Taylor and Clapton, and is a guitar orgy, as one would expect. What it all adds up to, however, is a stinging, overdriven performance of modern electric blues by a master bandleader who shows no signs of slowing down physically, and most importantly, creatively. Highly recommended.
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