To witness Eric Gales play electric guitar is to be in the presence of greatness. Everyone knows it. The fans know it. And the pros know it, too. Just ask Joe Bonamassa, who in 2019 hailed Gales as the best blues-rock guitarist in the world.
The evidence has been mounting for years now, but perhaps a recent show-closing moment from Gary Clark Jr’s set at the Steven Tanger Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, puts it beyond doubt.
Clark turns over the second half of an epic 11-minute jam to Gales, who provides a tour de force in lead guitar that showcases his frightening chops and expansive musical vocabulary.
A standout track from Clark’s 2001 album, Worry No More, When My Train Comes In has got plenty of room for the band to jam on, and when it comes time for the solos, King Zapata from Clark’s band steps up to the plate first, setting the table for what’s to come.
The whole jam is recommended watching. Clark’s voice was made for this material; slack-tempo, late-night blues. But if you’re in a hurry, fast-forward to the five-and-a-half-minute mark for a solo that will send you back to the practice room.
It is one of Gales’ great gifts that it doesn’t matter whether it is his show, whether it’s a simple gear demo or if he’s holding court and playing guitar within the sterile confines of a convention centre; whatever comes out the speaker is art.
Next year will be massive for Gales as his new album, Crown, is scheduled for release through Mascot Label Group/Provogue on 28 January, with production courtesy of Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, whose recent credits include Joanna Connor and Joanne Shaw Taylor.
The first single from the album, I Want My Crown, was shared last month, and while it sees Gales and Bonamassa step into the ring for a bout of blues-rock pugilism, the guitar playing is definitely not Marquess of Queensberry Rules. You can check that out above and preorder Crown here.