This year’s Somerset House Summer Series is now well under way, the courtyard known for ice skating and fountain-splashing briefly overrun with music lovers and bar queues like a Tube strike bus stop.
It doesn’t generate the same buzz as some festivals, because it seems to book bands at the end of their touring cycles who have already passed through London. Nevertheless, when the grand surrounding buildings glow, there are few better places in London to watch live music.
Gangly Texan bluesman Gary Clark Jr promised a new album for later this year, and new material included the smoky falsetto soul of Our Love. His set was still dominated by material from his 2012 release, Blak and Blu. It showed him to have one foot in tradition, covering BB King’s 3 O’Clock Blues at some length here, and the other in the wilder, rawer guitar work of Hendrix and The Black Keys.
Cocky lines such as “Ain’t nobody else like me around” on the choppy funk of Ain’t Messin’ ’Round were not reflected by his modest stagecraft. He said little, stood to one side and frequently retreated while delivering his acrobatic solos. Even if we couldn’t see one, we could hear a star whose next release should raise him higher.