15 September 2008
15 September 2008
Review by Jonathan Aird
Does anyone else find that gigs come in clusters? There's nothing much you want to see and then they are like buses and come along in two's and threeâ€™s? Or even several on the same day? So, off to The Astoria, for Ollie Brown (stage at 7:45), Johnny Winter (stage at 8:45), curfew at 10:20 to allow them to get the venue cleaned up ready for the G-A-Y nightclub. Forewarned that the maximum amount of Johnny Winter is 1 hour and 35 minutes isn't, it turns out, necessarily a great thing.
Johnny Winter is a survivor from the late 60's rock scene, who, since his work with revitalising the career of the late great Muddy Waters has the reputation of having eschewed his rock routes for a form of blues heavy on riffage and, whilst being not totally dissimilar to Chicago blues sucks in influences from elsewhere. Recorded Winter is often heavy on the harp, with a big drum sound beating things along. That's on record though. I was already aware from his 2007 visit to the UK that he was likely to be sitting throughout the show, and that he was unlikely to have a harp player in the band.
I've never been to such an empty Astoria - at 7:30 the crowd is sparse, although it fills up steadily, upstairs there's only maybe 50 or so people, and I make a mental note to move up there if the stage view gets too poor. Not so much atmosphere, but it'd be nice to be able to see the band.
Ollie Brown and band, a classic power trio line-up, come on stage at the designated time, and they seem to be very young. Ollie takes off his pin stripe suit jacket and rips into the first of a series of numbers designed to show off fast and loud blues guitar. He's good, but it's a bit hard to get enthusiastic about. The band are pretty much sidelined, all the power in this trio is residing with Ollie Brown. He finally slows down for "Missing You", in which he demonstrates a more melodic burst of guitar, which is much more pleasing to me. The final song is "Psycho", based on a semi-stalker experience, and on this the whole band seem to wake up, the drummer being twice as active as during the rest of the set. It's starting to get good, as they blend this song into a hard and loud "Black Betty", but unfortunately that's the end of the set.
There's quite a wait for 8:45 to come around, and even when it does there's no sign of the Johnny Winter band. The clock is ticking, every passing minute reducing the expected 1 hour 35 minutes of Johnny Winter. Eventually there's a sound check and a chair is brought out and placed centre stage. It looks kind of low down. The band finally hit the stage just after 9, and does about 10 minutes of hard and fast blues instruemental, and they do it very well. But, knowing that the gig will end at 10:20 I can't help resenting the late start and the non appearance of the main man. Will Johnny ever come on stage?
At last the band guitarist leaves the stage as Johnny Winter comes on from the wings. Considering that he is only just 64 you have to say that time has not been kind to him. He looks worn out, his white skin marbled with tattoos. He walks, a little shakily, to his seat, sits down and disappears from view. I can just about make out the top of his hat from about 5 rows back from the stage. Could they really not have arranged to have a riser under the chair? Right, there's only about 70 minutes of show time left, time for Plan B - I head for upstairs, only it's "sorry upstairs is closed tonight". The now 100 or so upstairs are presumably the guest list. So I join the 50 or so at the back shuffling around trying to find some sort of stage view. This intefers not a little with the initial musical appreciation.
Despite his frailty Johnny is actually playing and singing well (although by this time the cycnic in me is wondering where the other guitarist has gone, and who is actually playing). Songs are introduced with an indistinct mumble, and blend into each other a bit. There's a song off his new album, a Ray Charles number, and a Hendrix number, but to be honest the impact was fairly muted. There's a guest drummer on one number, but I've no idea who it was. And obviously the setup is causing a lack of stage presence, and memories of video footage of a much younger Johnny Winter leaping around the stage keep coming to mind.
There isn't a great amount of response from the rest of the audience, so clearly it's not just me. I'm glad to say that my doubts about the guitar playing are cleared up when the other guitarist rejoins the band, and his added rhythm guitar lifts the set quite a bit. Then he goes away again. The last two songs of the main set - "Johnny Guitar" and "It's all over now" show some real life and flashes of great playing - if only the whole set had been like this it would have been a great night. Johnny stands up, and we can briefly see him, then he's helped off to the wings. We are exhorted to cheer him back on, he's a legend we're reminded several times. There is a little cheering which it seems is enough to bring him back, with a different guitar. We're then treated to some really great slide guitar on Bon Ton Roulet and the closer of Highway 61 Revisited, which it has to be said was superb.
Then it's off stage and house lights on. About 70 minutes was a bit short, and I'm not the only one saying so.
Review by Paul Villers
Diamonds come from the most unlikely places. Deep down in the rock one must dig, delve and get dirty for that rarest of stones. Very, very occasionally however you just trip over one as if by accident and things begin to look up â€“ multi faceted and catching the light in just the perfect way. Such is this writerâ€™s discovery of the titular Mr. Finch and his dirty band. Deep in the heart of Coventry, around the corner and up the alley at The Hope and Anchor, there was a musical happening this weekend which restored oneâ€™s faith in hitting the motherlode of finely crafted, independent and YOUNG Americana influenced music. Under the auspices of the Sid Norris Organisation ( a local arts promotion concern) a number of talents took to the stage. All was good but imagine the surprise when the enthusiastic dancers in the audience supporting the other acts turned out to be the dayâ€™s highlight The Dirty Band. A precursor of things to come entertainment wise, obviously.
The thing about rough diamonds is that they need polishing. Not too much but just the requisite amount to make them shine and sparkle. And this is where Wes and the band are at. They can play their instruments alright â€“ accomplished but sufficiently care free to give the tunes the dirty edge. Thereâ€™s a whole mix in there â€“ the usual acoustic guitar, electric guitars, beautifully brushed drums, a lead guitarist playing bass and a stand in on lead guitar replacing an errant bassist. Add to that the banjo player, the backing vocalist playing djembe and kabbas, the extraordinarily bejewelled Brian Lea on gob iron and the female duettist exuberantly dancing her socks off. Whatâ€™s not to like? In their tunes they reference plenty of Americana favourites (such as in â€˜No Dramaâ€™ in which Annie is encouraged once more to â€˜take a load offâ€™ â€“ hey, if youâ€™re going to wear your influences on your sleeve you might as well reference the best) even covering The Kings of Leon in a Coventry-stylee - â€˜Velvet Snowâ€™ re-written with testosterone replaced by oestrogen. Thereâ€™s plenty of original material on offer too â€“ â€œThe Pactâ€ for example which deals with every artistâ€™s nightmare about having a soul to sell. Thereâ€™s more on offer in this nine number strong set too â€“ unfortunately in order to hear it you must make contact with the band to acquire their self produced demo cd or â€“ and hereâ€™s the exciting bit â€“ wait a short while for their debut bona fide release.
Wes Finch Lead vocal & guitar
Andy Whitehead bass on this occasion but usually Lead guitar
George (G) Vaughan Drums & vocals
Lucy Anne Sale Djembe kabbas & vocals,
Libby Fielding Vocals, dancing & kabbas
Matt Lakey Banjo & vocals
Brian Lea Harmonica
Ryan Every Guesting lead guitar to allow Andy to play bass
Joe Carvell Missing bassist
The set list:
Iâ€™ve Been Told
Hold That Note
9 out of 10 Cats
Get Out Your Violins
The Rescue Rag
Review by Paul Kerr
Although Jason Ringenberg has been a regular visitor to these parts over the years I think this was the Glasgow (and perhaps Scottish) debut of the band he made his name with. Accordingly a fired up audience gathered to see this visitation by one of the great 80â€™s bands.
Fresh from their support slot tour with Chuck Prophet, The Wynntown Marshals opened with an all too short set. Risen from the ashes of The Sundowns (a 10/10 album on Americana UK with Calabasas), they have lost one of their major songwriters, Ross Taylor, but maintain the excellent Keith Benzie who now handles all the frontman duties and drummer, MC and general powerhouse behind the band, Keith Jones. In addition there is Iain Barbour, a veritable guitar for hire who pops up on record and gigs throughout Scotland and who adds a new dimension to the band sound.
Despite a difficult, bass heavy sound at times, the Marshals had 30 minutes to wow the audience and by and large succeeded. With no time to play their epic 11:15, the highlight of their current mini album (a great pity), they managed a selection from the disc including â€œSilent Movie,â€ and â€œI shouldâ€˜ve guessed.â€ There was a nod to the Sundowns with â€œSaid to Meâ€ and a rendition of their latest single, â€œBallad of Jayne,â€ a countrified version of an LA Guns' song.
As with the Sundowns they carry an authentic whiff of Americana in the writing and performance and with Barbour, who at times was banging and knocking his guitar and producing a twang element of a very high degree, it bodes well for the Marshalsâ€™ future.
Jason Ringengberg before the show at the merchandise table, looked as if he wouldnâ€™t say boo to a goose. Mild mannered and pale you would walk by him in the street. On stage he was a man transformed. A dervish, dancing and clapping, playing wild harmonica riffs, witty and engaging in his intros, the crowd were eating out of his hand. In addition, guitarist Warner E. Hodges had his own fan club pressed against the stage barrier and he played to the crown in an excellent fashion. From an immediate, barnstorming opener â€œAbsolutely Sweet Marieâ€ they whipped up a storm. Frenzied versions of the back catalogue including Shotgun Blues, Going Nowhere, Broken Whisky Glass, Pray For Me Mama, Hot Nights in Georgia and Drug Store Truck Driving Man (with a great intro from Jason) formed a two hour set. Hodges pulled out all the stops with his trademark guitar slings and careered through a version of Parsonâ€™s Las Vegas.
This was a band who seemed to be having more fun than the audience at times and as the set progressed there seemed to be more abandon. At the end there were audience singalongs and finally, during the encore that included White Lies Jason was in the audience, walking along the bar, jumping onto the seat partitions and giving his all. By the end the band appeared drained, Jasonâ€™s voice was going and the audience were sated. An excellent night
Review by Graeme Scott
I have no idea how many reviews I have written over the years but I do know that I have used the expression everything included bar the kitchen sink. Well last night I have finally seen, and heard, a band where quite literally they did include such a unit. Having had to reschedule a set of gigs following a recent throat infection I fully think Tom and his band were out to prove that all is well again. Frankly there was nothing to prove as they were absolutely brilliant and on sparkling form. The opening triplet of songs, 'Night Like This', 'Skybound' and the thoroughly engaging Spanish and Latin influenced 'Tell Her Today', which include the first appearance of the afore mentioned kitchen sink during the end percussive section of the song, saw the crowd completely behind Tom and his classy ensemble. Obviously there are quite a few anthemic songs on the current album however Tom is equally capable of very soft and expressive playing on, for example, 'A Day In Verona' from the debut album "Feather And Stone". Others have written of the comparisons with other artists however, for me, those are superfluous, as, by this time, Tom is very much his own man. No sign of throat problems on the exhausting and emotionally draining 'Half A Man' that had crystal clear vocals soaring over the powerful ending. Full marks to the engineer on that song and the glorious cacophonic finale of 'My Declaration' which included the second outing for the kitchen sink. Wonderful stuff and I for one will be back.
Review by Jonathan Aird
For reasons that are not relevant to this review I was stuck overnight in the Milton Keynes area, and a night in a Travelodge like room did not appeal, but I'd found the brochure for a local venue called The Stables. King Creosote was listed, well, I've heard the name: part of a Scottish folk "collective" of which KT Tunstall had once been a member. That's not much to go on. Still, at least it'd get me out of the room. I phoned on the night in the hope they might have some tickets, turned out they did still have tickets. When I got in it was obvious that there were about 330 tickets left. The good people of Milton Keynes had not flocked to this well hidden little venue. But what a really nice small - about 400 seats - theatre venue The Stables is. Comfortable seats, good views of the stage, but what would the gig be like ?
I came in half way through The Pictish Trail's set. The Pictish Trail is one guy (real name Johnny) with a guitar (sometimes a keyboard). He was just calling on King Creosote (real name Kenny) to come and help him out with accordion and backing vocals. This duo would later be reversed, with King Creosote doing the singing and The Pictish Trail doing the backing music and vocals. The Pictish Trail's songs were mostly downbeat, the final one, using keyboards, evoked an astronaut leaving a capsule orbiting the earth which he was able to blot out with a thumb (a bit like a stripped down version of Kate Bush's Little Earth off Hounds of Love). It was a bit discordant, and neither the audience nor the players could take it seriously after the anti-build up it was given. I guess this is what they call alt-folk.
After a short interval King Creosote took the stage and launched into a series of songs dealing mostly with broken relationships, thwarted lust, rejection and duff dates. Perhaps surprisingly this was all done with a lot of humour and clever lyrical imagery - like the protagonist of "Twin Tub" who is given the brush off as he looks as if he is "four loads behind on his laundry" - and on returning home he realises the truth of this jibe.
Everything was performed as if we'd just wandered into a front room or a corner of a scottish pub and found a couple of guys plucking songs out of the air. Found sounds became part of one song where a metal spinning top replicated the sound of creaking bedsprings.
I hadn't heard any of the songs before (except perhaps "It's not good enough" which sounded familiar) but I clearly need to get 1 or 2 albums. Most of the rest of the audience were more familiar with the material as the last 20minutes or so was all requests.
Good voice, clever songs, good tunes, entertaining banter. Seems like a good combination to me. Don't understand why real names can't be used though.....
Review by Mark Whitfield
The most memorable thing about tonightâ€™s gig was nothing to do with the band people (well, presumably most) had come to see. The first support Noah and the Whale (not to be confused with Peter and the Wolf. Whatâ€™s that? Itâ€™s just meâ€¦) played a blinding set sounding somewhere half way between the Waterboys and the Barenaked Ladies and with an amazing grasp of their instruments (and vocals for that matter â€“ the harmonies were incredibly strong). Next up however were Israeli three piece Monotonix, and for the next thirty minutes, we the audience were Palestine. Apart from wrecking the club with their own brand of glam-metal and almost causing a fist fight with a member of the audience after lashing their beer over the crowd, they werenâ€™t actually very good. As David Berman wryly pointed out, theyâ€™ll probably be stuck with them for the next year as you canâ€™t imagine too many bands whoâ€™ll have them. (Potentially getting your entourage thrown out before the main act has been on canâ€™t be a good thing) That said, the Silver Jews made everything right as they always do. Berman promised a â€œpsychedelic setâ€ for â€œpsychedelic Liverpoolâ€ and proceeded to alternate between tracks from the new record (which without exception sounded as good as anything theyâ€™ve ever recorded) and older material including Horseleg Swastikas and the incredible Dallas. One new track in particular, the closer to the new album, a male/female harmony piece between Berman and his wife was just outstanding. Closing the set with Punks in the Beerlight, it was clear who the real punks were here tonight - and who were the pretenders.
Review by Alan Taylor
It would be hard not to imagine that the whole story had been devised by some wise guy marketing/PR man, swivelling casually on a leather chair, smoking a fat Cuban cigar. Four drifting, poor kids, three of them brothers and one adopted dice player, appear from the backwoods of the Catskill Mountains. Raised by their Carpenter father on a diet of Jimmie Rodgers and Blind Willie McTell, they lived together on a school bus (now, so the legend goes, up for sale on E-bay!), recorded their first album in a leaky theatre, which got struck by lightening (and they left the crackle on the CD) and their second in a chicken coop. They started off busking for food at farmers markets, then went on to support Conor Oberstâ€™s â€œBright Eyesâ€ on a US tour and well, the rest is history!
The Hi Fi Club welcomed their debut with a virtually full house and the Feliceâ€™s waded straight in with a foot stomping â€œWhereâ€™d You Get The Liquorâ€. Half the crowd thought theyâ€™d seen Bob Dylan born again, as Ian Felice grated out the lyrics, the band crooning out gritty Catskill Mountain harmonies. They performed complete with the trusty stage prop of a bottle of Jackâ€™s, which they passed cheerily into the front row. New member Farley on washboard and fiddle, jerked like a demented Jack-rabbit, careering around the stage doing his best to demolish the drummers cymbals. Big front man James in floppy hat, drove the tunes with a wheezy squeeze box, whilst dice throwing bassist Christmas looked so casual and passive at times, it was almost as if he was back at the card table. The crowd, which ranged from 16-60 plus, watched in part bewilderment part amazement, with ever increasing smiles as the night went on.
The set dripped with rocking whiskey-laden songs about hard times, drug habits, whores, prisons, preachers and the devil, it was as if theyâ€™d been transported straight from a front porch in the dust bowl. The rhythm pulsated with the loose drumming style of the crazed Simone, who left his battered drums and silenced the room with a Demonic bulging eyed version of â€œmercyâ€, complete with the typically sublime lyric - â€œCos your eyes are . . . . like a pale blue Chryslerâ€. After a foot stomping, raggedy set they received a rousing reception and following a brief discussion, they finished up with Simone, this time solo on guitar, singing â€œYour belly in my armsâ€ and finally, a raggle-taggle sing-along â€œGlory, Glory Hallelujahâ€ after which they once again passed the bottle round . . . literally. They then casually shuffled out to join the remnants of the audience outside for a well earned cigarette. Their slouching, chaotic style complete with imperfections and rough edges, just seems to make them so perfectly real, in this world of mass produced mediocrity. This bunch of whiskey-fuelled hobo troubadours are bound for bigger things â€“ catch them while you can.
Review by Paul Kerr
In only its second year the Glasgow Americana minifest is turning out to be a mighty fine beast. Bucking the trend of low audiences for decent Americana acts, prompter Kevin Morris was able to post â€œsold outâ€ stickers for this gig in a relatively large venue. Dressed in what appeared to be â€œparty frocksâ€ the Jennies appeared on stage surrounded by an array of instruments which they proceeded to play with an uncommon delicacy, drums, bass, guitars, accordion, banjo and ukulele were all deployed in the course of the evening. Violin was provided by the fourth â€œJennieâ€, Jeremy Penner.
Much has been made of the bandâ€™s harmony singing and tonight, in this converted church, their voices at times seemed angelic, vaulting to the ceiling and thrilling the audience. Several songs were sung acapella but it was when they picked up their instruments that they were more engaging. â€œArlington, â€œ from their album 40 Days was especially impressive. However, despite Pennerâ€™s bravura violin which added a muscular element to their set up the majority of the set was restrained and â€œpolite.â€ At times one wished that they would kick out and rustle up some shit kicking tunes.
Having said that, the audience loved them with rapturous applause throughout and participation in several choruses coached by the band. At the end the three Jennies left their mikes and standing in front of the ornate pulpit sang The parting Glass to a very hushed and very reverential crowd.
Opening act Rachel Harrington sang a short attractive set without her usual accompanist. Despite this she got a good response to her folky songs although the more memorable ones were covers of Laura Veirs and Billie Gentry numbers. She was somewhat dwarfed by the venue but returns to Glasgow in July to play a much smaller space (The Vale) and would be well worth checking out.
Review by Andy Riggs
Bruce & The E Street Band returned to the UK this week minus Patti (at home) and Danny Federici (no longer with us). This was the first live music show at the Emirates and from the surrounding publicity the local neighbourhood had demanded a 10.30pm curfew. Iâ€™ve always had a problem with these big arena concerts, but if you want to see Bruce these days you have to accept that this is the only way to see him live. Unless you get tickets close to the stage via the music business or corporate rockers, or wait hours on the pitch you have to settle for sitting in the main stadium a fair way from the stage. The early part of the concert was strangely lacking in atmosphere, which could have due to the fact that it didnâ€™t get dark until 9.30pm or more likely that I was surrounded by hordes of â€˜rock twerpsâ€™ unfamiliar with most of the songs but waiting for a recognisable chorus to sing along with.
As always Bruce provides a top draw show, playing numerous songs from his latest record â€˜Magicâ€™ and the usual crowd pleasers, â€˜Born To Runâ€™, â€˜Badlandsâ€™, â€˜Glory Daysâ€™, â€˜Cadillac Ranchâ€™ and the always popular but dreadful â€˜Dancing In the Darkâ€™. Bruce supplies an adrenalin filled two and half-hours of pulsating music. Highlights? Well most of the show but for me a superb rendition of â€˜Reason To Believeâ€™. â€˜Candyâ€™s Roomâ€™ and â€˜Because The Nightâ€™ with Nils Lofgren tearing the house down.
When Bruce decided to slow down the show this appeared to be a signal for the audience to have a chat, go for walk, go to the loo or have a walk. During a rare outing for â€˜Point Blankâ€™ to my disbelief the majority of the â€˜fansâ€™ around me left their seatsâ€¦maybe itâ€™s me just a â€˜grumpy ole music fanâ€™.
E Street Band member Danny Federici passed away earlier this year, and Bruce chose not to remove his name from the programme or the band credits, but had written a moving eulogy called â€˜Farewell to Dannyâ€™ in the programme â€“ summed up with these words, â€˜Of course we all grow up and we know â€œitâ€™s only rock â€˜n rollâ€..but itâ€™s not. After a lifetime of watching a man perform his miracle for you, night after night, it feels an awful lot like loveâ€™.
As ever Bruce and The Band are magnificent, the music played with energy, fun and vigour but for me the audience at these shows are more interested in corporate rock - luckily then Coldplay are on their way back to our stages.
On the way home there were many police cordons to prevent fans using the side streets and we were herded down to the Holloway Road and the tube station by an army of police. You would have thought weâ€™d been to see a bunch of foreign prima donnas kicking a ball around.
Review by Mike Ritchie
THIS is possibly Glasgowâ€™s most stunning venue, an old church converted into a venue for the arts with a restaurant and bar below ground level. It is near Glasgow Green, the High Court, the infamous Paddyâ€™s Market and only a loud chorus away from Barrowland, the cityâ€™s best venue by a mile. This is not the most comfortable place for a seated audience unless, like me, you were in the pews upstairs, or among the early arrivals in the front couple of rows.
The Wailinâ€™ Jennys appearance here was the sixth of the eight gigs hand picked by Kevin Morris of The Fallen Angels Club for this yearâ€™s Glasgow Americana Festival â€“ heâ€™s bought tickets for Jennysâ€™ gigs in the past so, as a fan, he knew what to expect. I was a Jennysâ€™ virgin, so to speak, before setting out on a balmy night to hear them. Their acoustic style is uncomplicated but embellished by gloriously crafted three-part harmonies that were perfect for the stylish setting. When the trio sang a cappella, it was joyous.
Two part Canadian - founder members, Nicky Metha and Ruth Moody have now been joined by dark-voiced Brooklyn-ite, Heather Masse on upright double bass â€“ they flicker around country, folk and some bluegrass, even gospel with ease, well aided by Jeremy Penner on violin who got the job, we were told, because he also â€œlikes shopping.â€
For me, highlight of the set was Prairie Town from their 2006 release â€œFirecracker.â€ This was a warm, lilting track with Ruth on lead vocals and Nicky and Heather on back-up vocals that ached and soothed simultaneously, gorgeous. And next up on my chart of the night was a suitably driving and fiery version of Deeper Well by Emmylou Harris, one of the few occasions â€“ maybe they should think of changing the pace from time to time - they upped the tempo. This was certainly a fine and welcome cover but the Negro gospel Motherless Child is one they could well drop from the set list. But letâ€™s end on a harmonious note as overall it was a pleasing gig and their harmonies hug you very nicely, indeed.
Review by Jeremy Searle
Nottingham singer-songwriter Andy Whittle is something of an undiscovered gem, with two excellent albums to his credit and a third on the way, which judging by the songs previewed in this set will easily match them. Whereas on album he is happy to use big productions and sounds, live he strips it right back to just him and his guitar, with some occasional bass and delicate backing vocals from Rebecca Dawson. This brings the words to the fore and, delivered in his tender and expressive voice the overall effect is amazingly moving. Self-effacing to a fault he frequently loses himself completely in the songs, as indeed do the audience.
Highlights amongst a set full of them include â€œFriendly Fireâ€, a fine addition to the ranks of anti-war songs, given slightly spooky resonance by the fact that his cousin was killed in just that way in Afghanistan a short while after he wrote the song. An insistent, urgent beat drives a song of real passion and anger. The anthemic â€œCome the Morningâ€ provokes a bit of a singalong, no mean achievement for 12.30 in the afternoon, and the poignant â€œTen Thousand Milesâ€, about a girlfriend moving to Australia and the consequences thereof, stands tall despite Whittles dry observation at the start that now sheâ€™s moved back again so the song doesnâ€™t quite work now. It does for the audience though, as indeed does everything else from a performer who is undoubtedly a major name in the making.
Review by Mike Ritchie
Eighty-nine cents will buy you a dog, but only love will make it wag its tail -
I know thatâ€™s an unusual way to start a live music review but a Kinky Friedman show is more than just the latest CD tracks being churned out along with a few, firm favourites from the back catalogue. There were gags galore, history snippets, political views on illegal immigrants, school curriculum, gay marriages, open-air drinking and regular, on-the-nail observations of Texans in this hugely entertaining 90 minutes that rounded off whatâ€™s been a successful Glasgow Americana Festival with 800 tickets sold for eight gigs at eight different venues.
The Kinkster offers a no-holds barred, uncensored take on issues, the kind of general irreverence that would really offend if you hadnâ€™t been prepared to leave all PC sensibilities at the door before taking your seat â€“ and why the hell not, as one of his slogans when he unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Texas went. California got The Terminator, Texas turned its back on The Communicator and, regardless of your own politics, the author of 28 books including his latest, â€œYou Can Lead A Politician To Water But You Canâ€™t Make Him Thinkâ€ has plenty, and I mean lots, to say. And most of it is funny, clever and unapologetic.
But his music is hard to overlook, and not just for titles such as get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns In The Bed, Asshole from El Paso or They Ainâ€™t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore. He claims heâ€™s not written a song in 25 years but thatâ€™s hard to believe. They vary from the downright, rudeness of Asshole to the moving break-up tale of Western Union Wire or the riveting poignancy of encore, Ballad of Ira Hayes, the Iwo Jima Old Glory raising hero. The sell-out Tron crowd was silenced as he sang: â€œWell, Ira took to drinking hard, jail often was his home/ They used to let him raise the flag there and lower it just like youâ€™d throw a dog a bone/ And Ira died drunk early one morning all alone in the land heâ€™d fought to save/ Two inches of water in a lonely ditch was the grave for Ira Hayes/ Call him drunken Ira Hayes, he wonâ€™t answer anymoreâ€¦â€
With excellent backing on key boards from his mates, Little Jewford and Washington Ratso (acoustic guitar) this was the first visit to the UK in five years, his next may be some time away given the demands on him back home. The value of his music, his poking fun at anyone he reckons merits it in song without any cruelty or bile, is clear as there have been two tribute albums to date featuring the likes of Tom Waits and Willie Nelson. â€œHell, I ainâ€™t even died yet.â€ Kinky told us. And on this first-class showing, thereâ€™s plenty of life in the 63-year-old yet.