Bloater and his boys pop out of the swamp and up to Brum

Big Boy Bloater has gone all droopy. Not the man himself, you understand, but his mic stand isn’t playing ball. On top of which, he’s got The Doobie Brothers playing in his ear-piece.

As he says himself: “Birmingham, on a Sunday night, eh?”

But he’s here, in the Dark Horse, in a room above a trendy BBQ joint, because his album, “Luxury Hobo” is a cracker, and also because his natural habitat is on stages up and down the country, playing his R&B infused blues to people.

That he remains something of a cult act doesn’t seem to bother him (“this one is from our forthcoming new album, the record company just told us we sold enough of the last one to make another…. just!” he deadpans here) and instead for 80 odd minutes he does what he was born to do and that is play the blues.

It is, though, the blues on his own terms. Robert Johnson never had a song about a TV star taking a restraining order out against you. Big Boy does. It’s called “I Can’t Forget About You” and it is bags of fun.

Quite simply, no one writes songs like Bloater. “Every Path Has It’s Puddle” deals with serial killers, “Pills” is about drugs (“not the good kind, the ones I get from the doctors” he offers) and occupies the same kind of timeless groove The Stones found on their early albums, while “Saturday Night Desperation Shuffle” speaks for itself.

Not an artist either to rest on his laurels. There are a few brand-new songs. “She Didn’t Even Buy A Ticket” is excellent, but “It Ain’t Rufus” which actually closes the set, is better and there is obviously every reason to be excited about 2018’s collection.

What Bloater as well as Steve Oates and Matt Cowley, who make up The Limits, also are is fine musicians. A couple of times, songs are chucked into the set that weren’t expected and no one is phased, indeed the spontaneity makes them highlights.  “Messing With The Booze” is a 12 bar (puns intended) romp that knows just where the trouble is at and “That Ain’t My Name” is almost a singalong.  The pinnacle of the playing, however, is “Rocket Surgery” an instrumental, which allows them all to showcase their considerable talents.

There are no lengthy jams here though, just rollicking good songs like “Robot Girlfriend”, the ska flavours of “Insanely Happy” and “Leonard Cohen” as things hurtle along at breakneck speed.

Even the encore is done in jest. “We thought we’d save this one till last….actually we were just hoping there’d be a last one” laughs BBB and with that they are into “It Came From The Swamp” which, with its raspy vocals, summons up something appropriately unsettling.

The Big Boy with the big talent and the superb band is a unique artist.  On form, like they are here, the three of them know no limits.