Kansas City’s Samantha Fish Puts On Nasty (In A Good Way) Chicago Show
Kansas City native Samantha Fish brought her Love Letters tour to the Park West in Chicago on Sunday, October 8, 2023, and it was a nasty show, in a good way.
By now most of you reading this know I'm a big Samantha Fish fan. My Mom even teases me that I'm a Samantha Fish groupie based on the three trips I've made to Chicago to see her (and visit Mom.) I'm OK with that because I needed a new guitar hero. And for me, that guitar hero is none other than Samantha Fish, who for the last few years has been picking up accolades for her playing, as well as songwriting.
If you haven't experienced a Samantha Fish concert and you like blues, rock, engaging songwriting, and a roller coaster of an energetic live show, then you're missing out. I'd describe her latest Chicago performance as nasty, in a very good way.
This time around without having a new solo record to promote, or having her latest collaborator Jesse Dayton with her, Fish was able to create a setlist of tunes she wanted to play. Something she made known to the audience during one of her quick conversations with us.
That put her energetic tone-setting song Bulletproof back as the show opener, as opposed to being played mid-show, which was where she and Dayton placed it in their Death Wish Blues tour show I saw in Addison back in June. She followed that with the energetic title track from Wild Heart, which found its way back into her fans' consciousness when a vinyl version of the record popped up as available on Amazon.com earlier this summer after being difficult to find.
She then bounced around picking a few stand-out tunes off of her albums "Faster", "Chills and Fever", and "Belle Of The West", before slowing the show down for a few acoustic songs starting with "Love Letters" from her record "Kill Or Be Kind".
One of the highlights of the acoustic part of her show, which was a first for me because in my experience she sequences her set list to build and build, then pulls it back for a song, before building again was her performance of Charlie Patton's "Jim Lee Blues, Part 1" and Gladys Knight & The Pip's "If I Were Your Woman".
The first tune is one that most Fish fans probably have heard, the second seems to be one she only occasionally plays. It was a beautiful rendition of the classic R&B tune. She then spent the final part of her show building the energy back up to wrap up her show and set up the encore.
Encores at Samantha Fish shows are always good, however, I got spoiled. When I saw her play for the first time at The Blue Note in Columbia she brought out King Solomon Hicks, and the only way I can describe the performance is they locked eyes, got in the zone, forgot about us in the audience, and just jammed, burning the house down in the process. For me, it was the best encore I've ever seen.
I don't know if in my mind she'll ever top that. However, her encore of arguably her best-known cover, a version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins's "I Put A Spell On You", along with bringing out opener Eric Johanson, to join her on a rousing version of "Bitch On The Run" complete with crowd participation came damn close.
Johanson, by the way, is no slouch in his own right. When I was chatting with Fish at her after-show meet and greet by her merch table at her Addison, Illinois show she told me I'd love the guy she was bringing on tour with her in the fall and I shouldn't miss it. I didn't and was really happy to see him live. If you like crunchy southern New Orleans-style blues, you'll love Johanson and you should check out his latest album The Deep And The Dirty, which has been doing very well on the Blues chart since its release.
Fish and Johanson wrapped up the Love Letters tour the next night in Bloomington, Illinois and both wound up in Fish's current base of operation, New Orleans, for the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Fest this past weekend.
Fish will spend much of the rest of the year on tour with Jesse Dayton promoting their "Death Wish Blues" album in Europe and stateside. For the stateside shows being billed as the "Shake Em On Down" tour Fish and Dayton are adding Jon Spencer to the bill, along with Johanson. She'll also be doing some shows with Kenny Wayne Sheperd and the Steve Miller Band.
Here's hoping that 2024 will bring Samantha Fish back to Kansas City and Columbia for some hometown shows. I gotta bunch of friends here who have been itchin' to experience her brand of blues for nearly two years now!
You can check out my other Samantha Fish concert experiences at the links below: