17.05.2023, Z7 Konzertfabrik, Pratteln, Switzerland
At the last minute I make it into Z7 when the first notes are played. Punctually at 20:00 the lights go down and the spotlight is on for a Blues Rock legend, Popa Chubby from the USA.
Raised in the Bronx, the man whose real name is Theodore Joseph Horowitz has been playing blues rock for over 30 years and with his guitar and voice has long been a legend in the scene. He became famous in the 90s with his performances at Manny’s Carwash Blues Club and played with giants like Earl King and James Cotten.
I have to admit I don’t really know him, his career has passed me by, but nevertheless I was curious to see this man with his guitar who can provide hours of entertainment without an opening act.
There he is, sitting on stage with his guitar. What strikes me is that he plays some of his bigger hits like “Hey Joe” right at the beginning of the concert. With these great songs, the first hour flies by. In the second and third hour it gets less entertaining for me: A lot of instrumental parts, most of which are very interesting but not my cup of tea. However, for the first time ever, I can appreciate purely instrumental music. The part where Popa works the drums could have been left out or shortened, but three hours of playing time need to be filled.
His musicians from the USA, Italy and I think Spain are all professionals, that’s for sure. What I find frightening is that all three of them constantly look to Popa Chubby to follow his instructions. In the blues scene, there is a lot of impro and one sets the tone that the others follow, but still I find the whole atmosphere quite tense. Even though they can loosen up a bit now and then and seem to be having fun, too, the whole thing irritates me. When the microphone feeps a few times, the sound technician can’t get it under control right away and Popa starts shouting at him on stage, it’s clear that we’re not dealing with an easy-going character here.
In any case, Popa Chubby’s fans haven’t had enough even after three hours of playing and loudly demand an encore, although he had just told them that he doesn’t do it like that and that it’s the last song, the encore so to speak. But coming right to the front after three hours of playing,to the merch stand and handing out photos and autographs, that’s something not everyone does. Compliments for that and for this extensive show.