ALIVE in Amsterdam
Provogue/Mascot Label Group
“I love you people. I am speechless here. Since I can’t think of anything to do to follow that incredible ovation you just gave me, the only thing I can think of to do is to play the guitar.” With these words, seminal bluesman Walter Trout’s ALIVE in Amsterdam begins, a live record that literally celebrates being ALIVE in its truest sense. Recorded at Amsterdam’s Royal Theatre on November 28, 2015, this collection celebrates Trout’s roaring comeback after receiving a new liver (May, 2014) and a new lease on life. This two-disc set is as much for his fans as it is for his family – his wife, Marie, and his three sons were his rocks and his support system, and the world anxiously awaited his liver transplant right along with them. So it’s only appropriate that Trout would cover the Luther Allison/James Solberg-penned, “I’m Back” (“This is a song with a message!”) on this album, and boy, is he ever. Supported by Johnny Griparic (bass), Sammy Avila (Hammond B3) and Michael Leasure (drums), as well as additional vocals/guitar from Andrew Elt and guitar on several tracks from son, Jon, Trout’s blues-infused rock has never sounded better.
Seven of the 14 cuts from this show appear on Trout’s last studio effort, the award-winning Battle Scars, which is a musical tour de force that basically chronicles Trout’s medical plight, and rightly so. Trout has much to celebrate, and the audience goes along for the ride on this musical journey through his own personal hell and back to the top, where Trout undoubtedly belongs.
In addition to the Allison cover, Trout also pays homage to Sonny Boy Williamson/Willie Dixon/Ralph Bass with a scorching version of “Help Me,” as well as a simply brilliant interpretation of John Lee Hooker’s “Serve Me Right to Suffer.” Also thrown in is a fun “father/son guitar jam session” of the blues standard, “Rock Me Baby” with son, Jon. A proud father moment for the elder Trout, to be sure.
Other standouts include “Say Goodbye to the Blues,” which Trout dedicates to B.B. King, “the greatest bluesman that ever lived,” the audience-requested, Latin-flavored “Marie’s Mood” and an audience-interactive rendition of “The Love That We Once Knew” to close it out.
There is nothing that rivals the high energy of a live show, and Trout certainly proves that with this release. For fans who have supported him and agonized right along with the entire Trout family, this celebration of music and life couldn’t be more timely and welcome. Trout is a living testament to the very essence of the blues, and he is indeed back to stay.