Guitar hero Rea gets back to singing the blues

Comeback Kid: Chris Rea had the audience on its feet at Sheffield City Hall where he played his new material.'             PICTURE: GLENN ASHLEY.
Comeback Kid: Chris Rea had the audience on its feet at Sheffield City Hall where he played his new material.' PICTURE: GLENN ASHLEY.
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THERE’S a monster of a bottleneck on the Road to Hell: a bottleneck guitar, that is.

Chris Rea’s rock anthem has a lot of mileage under its belt, but, raging against environmental pollution and capitalism gone mad, it’s as relevant as ever.

It certainly brought the City Hall crowd to their feet.

Rea can make his guitar shriek out pain and anger with the best of the blues players.

But he also has a light touch with a lovey-dovey ballad like Julia, Josephine or On The Beach.

And with his rich, melodic voice you hear every word – a rarity at a guitar hero’s gig.

Roads feature prominently – he is a well-known petrolhead after all, and at times you know his pain is real.

Anguished, stormy blues epics like Easy Rider must have echoes of his own brush with death in 2001, when a pancreatic disorder left him in intensive care.

The tour is in support of his first new material in a decade, The Santo Spirito Project, an in-depth work of two feature films on DVD and two CDs of music.

And, as he says, there’s Still So Far to Go.