Charley Crockett. Live at  London’s Jazz Cafe *****

Charley Crockett has come a long way since we reviewed his debut London show in 2018. His rise has been meteoric. He’s released ten albums since 2015, played at Nashville’s Opry and headlines at the Ryman later this month.

Storyteller Crockett is bringing old country to a new audience. The enthusiastic punters at the Jazz Cafe were largely in their twenties. Crockett’s style, a mix of country, blues and Cajun which he terms “Gulf and Western” is infectious. Many in the audience were singing along and knew all the words, some were dancing and many more were tapping their feet and swaying to the band’s tight groove. 

Crockett was ably backed by his longstanding band – the Blue Drifters – comprising of bass, lead guitar, pedal steel, drums and multi-instrumentalist Kullen Fox who played key and doubled as Mariachi trumpeter, often at the same time and to the delight of the audience. 

Crockett began with Cowboy Candy, Time of the Cottonwood Trees and Just Like Honey  from his latest album, The Man From Waco. Standout tracks of the night included the swinging Jukebox Charley, the crowd favourite Welcome to Hard TImes, the blues and soul of I Need Your Love and I’m Just A Clown ,and the Jerry Reed cover I Feel For You.

Crockett is a man in a hurry and doesn’t waste time. Gone is the small talk between numbers of yesteryear, now it’s music all the way. In 2018 he played a set with 25 numbers. This time it was a whopping 30 tracks in 100 minutes. Crockett does not do long songs. He does short, snappy, catchy tunes, delivered with impressive timing and his optimistic, charismatic country drawl.

Next time Crockett plays London expect to see him at a significantly larger venue than Camden’s Jazz Cafe, which he sold out well before this show. Charley Crockett is a musical whirlwind. Everybody loves Jukebox Charley.  

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