I wasn't fortunate enough to have ever seen Muddy Waters live and, prior to this gig, had no fixed
ideas about his eldest son. This was simply another opportunity to catch a visiting American blues
musician live in the UK. It was also my first visit to the Forum's smallish bar in the much larger complex
that doubles as the Student's Union for the University of Hertfordshire. A modern juke joint indeed! The
efficient air-conditioning was counteracted by the appearance of Giles Robson and the Dirty Aces, who
raised the temperature with a couple of tunes, featuring some storming harmonica by Giles and some
appropriately enough dirty blues boogie guitar by Filip Kozlowski, more than ably backed by the
experienced Ian Jennings on double bass and Mike Hellier inhabiting the drum stool to great effect.
Mud was then introduced in fine style, to take centre stage and just blow the audience away with his
superb vocals and engaging manner. After instructing the band to "take their time", his rendition of
"King Bee" and "You Can't Lose What You Never Had" was so similar to his father's vocal style and
energy that it was downright spooky, in the most enjoyable way. A snappy dresser in true Chicago style,
Mud commanded attention and participation from the punters, especially during a swinging "Can't Get
No Grinding" with its catchy chorus and enthusiastic backing vocals courtesy of the Dirty Aces. The
audience of predominantly mature students, silver surfers and slap-heads were fully onside by now.
The analogy that "it was like watching a ghost in the flesh" was never more apt than during a stomping
"Hoochie Coochie Man" that took us to the break.
The second set was equally entertaining, with the Dirty Aces giving us their interpretation of "Dollar
And A Quarter", previously made popular by Junior Wells, featuring more rasping harp by Giles and
terrific backing by the rest of the band. With Mud returning to his stool centre stage and letting
everyone know that "No One Take My Place", the second set featured more top drawer Chicago blues,
including slower numbers that simmered with intensity. "What Else Can I Say" was Mud reflecting on a
broken heart and "The Same Old Thing" a declaration about his dad's favourite music.
"Baby Please Don't Go" might have been covered by just about every musician alive, but this felt like it
was a fresh and original composition somehow. Inevitably, Mud mimicked his father's vocal roar at the
start of "Mannish Boy" which closed the set on a real high, before upping the ante once more during
the encore of "Got My Mojo Working", which featured a chance for each musician to shine.
For one brief evening, I was transported to the Checkerboard Lounge, or Buddy Guy's Legends,
although I did appreciate the shorter trip home from Hatfield with an early start at work the next day.
What else can I say? Mud Morganfield is the genuine article and a real showman - just see him live!