Canadian blues rocker David Gogo opened his set at Vancouver’s Yale Hotel on Granville Street with his massive hit "Skeleton Key," which found a home on the airwaves and in the hearts of numerous blues fans in the United States and Canada. His fans certainly cannot complain about getting their money’s worth as Gogo is one of the hardest working musicians that I have witnessed. Like a man possessed, he worked at a feverish pace for ninety minutes (and later returned for a second set). His chord progressions were like laser guided missiles on a search and destroy mission, as they tapped into the hearts of and seduced his audience. By the end of the third song, the dance floor was jammed, and this only served to inspire Gogo to yet a more intense session of guitar riffs.
Performing "300 LB Shoes," (Vibe-2004) Gogo pulled out all the stops using his wa-wa pedal for distortion and a bottleneck slide to prolong the notes, alter the pitch and give his guitar a vibrato voice. Later in the set, he used the original precursor of the slide, the actual neck of a bottle to the same effect. For extra effect, he made liberal use of his whammy bar.
Because he is such a talented guitarist, Gogo does not get enough recognition for his vocals. Songs like "Skeleton Key" (CD of the same name-2002, 2006--US release), "Something Ain’t Right" (Vibe--2004), and "Hey Juanita" (Vibe) highlight a smooth voice that is often belied by the many growling ballads that he performs. "Hey Juanita," from the 2004 album Vibe, has a pretty melody and possesses great hooks.
His cover of Eddie Hinton’s R&B tinged "(I Gotta) Testify" got the audience back out onto the dance floor (not that they had left for long).
Like most blues artists Gogo plays a lot of ballads, unlike most blues artists he has the ability to play them a fast pace, slow them down or somewhere in between, and do it well. He also demonstrates the vocal versatility, to match his guitar wizardry, with equally competent vocals.
Julian St Martin was outstanding on the organ and electric keyboard resulting in several instances of spontaneous applause from the audience, as he finished keyboard solos. Drummer Gordon Grant Baird and bass guitarist Jay Stephens completed the musicians backing up Gogo.
If you don’t like Don Rickles’ humor then you probably are not going to enjoy David Gogo’s particular brand of humor, so be forewarned his concerts are not for the faint of heart. He is however, a blues artist who creates memorable grooves and leaves everything he has on stage.