WALKENHORST & PORTER – Oslo – John Dee
And the rainmaker came to town: Walkenhorst & Porter live at John Dee March 10 2010
The last time I saw Bob Walkenhorst was in 1996, fronting The Rainmakers at a jampacked Rockefeller. Skip ahead to 2010 and much has changed. The Rainmakers have long since disbanded, and Walkenhorst returns to the stage with a single companion; fellow Kansas City performer Jeff Porter. Last time Bob and his band easily drew an audience of well over 1000 people, but 14 years of near silence is a long time.This night only about 100 people show up to see the duo Walkenhorst & Porter promote their new cd No Abandon and perform a number of Bob's old Rainmakers songs.
"And the rainmaker came to town, and the people got what they wanted. The rainmaker came to town and everybody got what they need". Walkenhorst walks on stage to a loud chorus of the opening lines of his old song "Rainmaker" Someone yells "Welcome home, Bob!" With a smile Bob acknowledges the greeting and goes straight into the title song from No Abandon. People are clapping along and cheering, then straight into The One That Got Away. The crowd only needs to hear the opening riff to the old classic before they're singing along. Or as Bob points out " Hey, wait for me!" but the crowd just keeps on singing, so he takes the opportunity to greet the audience: "Hello friends and neighbors in Oslo, good to see you again! If we're gonna sing this together, let's start together. NOW! 1-2…" After the song he explains how he and Jeff have been practicing hard to do a good job, but that he had forgotten to tell Jeff that everyone SINGS ALONG…he follows with "Thanks for the warm welcome, it is such a pleasure to be back in Oslo playing music for you". Jeff Porter chips in commenting on the welcome given to Bob from the crowd: "Wow, you really are a rockstar!"
It's pretty clear that the guys can do no wrong this evening, the old Rainmakers songs are greeted with wild sing along enthusiasm and the new songs are applauded nearly as loud and long. Bob Walkenhorst is in great voice, delivering above and beyond the call of duty on both ballads and rockers. Jeff Porter proves himself a great companion to his more famous partner, showing off impressive skills on guitar and piano in addition to a very warm and heartfelt manner of singing that goes down very well with the audience. His renditions of his own songs "Hey Bird", "Jimmy Lee"and "Ruin The Rain" get a tremendous response from the audience. And together they really shine on the harmonies of both new and old songs. While mostly sticking to acoustic guitars, some songs get the added element of Jeff playing either electric piano or electric guitar, while Bob sits down behind his small drum kit and delivers a pounding backbeat. For two guys they make a lot of rockin' noise with fan favorite "Big Fat Blonde", "Reckoning Day" and on the last encore "One More Summer" where Bob says they've come on a mission to bring summer to Norway: "let's build a snowman and tell him to get the hell out of town".
With an audience of die hard Rainmakers fans it would have been easy to coast along with minimal effort, but the guys on stage gave testament to what real music is all about. A good show was all that was needed, but Walkenhorst & Porter gave us a great show instead.
So nice to see someone playing their hearts out not for money, not for fame but for the simple reason that this is what they truly love to do.
If they should grace a Norwegian stage again, don't think twice about buying a ticket. These guys are world class musical storytellers with a great songbook full of wonderful tales.
Foto: Stian Omland