Peer Gynt – Live in Hell
GoldTone Records GTR 2101
11 songs – 65 minutes
Borrowing his stage name from a Norwegian folk hero, blues-rock guitarist Peer Gynt – aka Per Helge Tareldsen – has been drawing praise from his American counterparts and setting stages ablaze across Europe since the ‘90s. And he keeps the fires burning with this hourlong set, which was captured in front of an animated audience in September 2021 in Hell, Norway, at the aptly named the Blues in Hell Festival.
It was a welcome return to the stage for the artist who feared that his once successful career was over for good after experiencing cancellations of world tours and more as the planet was laid waste and spun to a halt because of COVID-19.
Gynt had been touring the U.S. frequently since the early 2000s when he released his Fairytales CD on Ruf Records, delivering music in power-trio format that’s appeared in the soundtracks of several American TV shows, including Punk’d, C.S.I., 60 Minutes, Deadwood, Six Feet Under and more as well as both Red and Red II on the big screen. An unorthodox fret master who’s endorsed by both Fender guitars and LaBella strings, he’s been described by Walter Trout as “an animal on stage.”
He penned six of the 11 tracks here, delivering his lyrics in perfect English without the hint of an accent, but comments to the audience in his native tongue. He’s backing by a powerful rhythm section composed of drummer BP Hovik and bassist Jon Krogstad. They describe their music on the back cover as “sensational & loud” “in your face” “blistering guitar acrobatics,” and they definitely make good on the promise.
“Freddies Shuffle,” an instrumental penned by Swedish blues-rocker Clas Yngström, opens with a megaton six-string explosion atop eager applause before the band launches into a heavy, syncopated, mid-speed shuffle that sets the stage for what’s to come. “Don’t Take Advantage of Me” – written by Norwegian TV host/rocker Marius Müller, keeps the heat on with a driving guitar hook and serves up a complaint about a lady who’s doing everything she can to hurt him and the promise that he’s hellbent for revenge.
Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Hot Little Mama” is up next and blazes across ten minutes with all the familiar stop-time breaks intact but with a whole lot more before taking it in places its never gone before. A heavy drumbeat and plenty of pyrotechnics cast a spell in “Witchcraft,” which heaps praise on the singer’s enchantress and describes a sex act that’s not safe for tender ears.
“I Can Tell,” which appeared on Gynt’s Ruf CD, gets an extensive overhaul here. A slow burner with heavy accents, it almost doubles in size as it describes a lady he believes is “trying to kill my soul like I knew you would.” The action heats up dramatically for the rocker, “Hotblood,” about a woman who loves to dance all night, then slows again for “Liar,” a complaint about a companion coming home in the early morning and making accusations that aren’t true.
Gynt’s take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand” opens with about 60 seconds of discordance before settling into a familiar, pleasantly subdued groove. Two more originals – the uptempo blues, “Please Please Babe,” and “Prelude,” a 75-second instrumental – precede Lonnie Mack’s “Cincinnati Shuffle” to close.
If you’re a blues lover who adores hard rock, you’ll really like this one. If your tastes are more delicate, however, be forewarned. Available through Amazon and other online retailers.