An electrifying slice of blues and rock 'n' roll kicked off the 2009 Isle of Man Guitarfest at Peel's Centenary Centre last night.
The first of four evenings of concerts staged in Douglas and Peel, the night began with local support from seasoned players Walter Ego.
John Barker (vocals, guitar), Johnny Galbraith (bass) and Jim Houghton (drums) delivered a fine set comprising original material, penned by John, and an eclectic mix of covers which took in The Eels, Peter Green, Tom Waits and The White Stripes.
After a break during which the audience decamped to the Centre's Atholl Room (and nearby pubs), Angelo Palladino and The Skeleton Crew took to the stage for a riveting performance.
Palladino's ostensibly slender CV - his most prominent credit is having composed a song for the soundtrack of Leaving Las Vegas - is misleading: the veteran performer is a stunning, authentic talent.
Flanked by his 'Crew' - Rob Thompson on guitar and Chris Procter on bass - Palladino ripped through a set of lean, gritty blues numbers inspired by love, regret and hard living.
When he called some of the Greats into service, Palladino did so with brio: a cover of Warren Zevon's Carmelita, the songwriter's mariachi ode to heroin, is delicious, while a stripped-down reworking of the Stones' Playing with Fire injects the song with believable menace.
Palladino mines both his dark and light sides effortlessly: The Devil, The Money and The Gun was as unsettling as Nothing But Love Will Do - an urgent rock 'n' roller from which the band segued into People Get Ready - was uplifting.
London-born Palladino's tough, roguish personality ("I wrote this for Chet Baker", he says by way of introducing the deep blue Midnight, "but he died") is a treat, but the real charisma is in his voice; he has conviction to burn.
The calibre of the evening augurs well for the rest of the Guitarfest, which has been organised by Jonno Gollow of JonnoPromotions.
The music continues tonight with a concert by classical guitarist Gary Ryan, supported by Pete Smith and Roger Inniss, at the Gaiety Theatre.
The festival comes to a close on Sunday at the Centenary Centre with an evening of slide, blues and roots from Rod Clements and Amrit Sond.