Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Louisiana supergroup Lil' Band of Gold

Louisiana swamp pop supergroup Lil' Band of Gold stormed into London yesterday with an all-action two hour show at the Shepherds Bush Empire. And apparently we have Lily Allen to thank for this rare treat, as they were in the UK to perform at her wedding.
Kicking off the show was a documentary film called The Promised Land - a Swamp Pop Journey, about the formation of the Lafayette-based band, showing how local guitar hero and singer CC Adcock persuaded veteran swamp pop drummer and vocalist Warren Storm, Cajun accordionist Steve Riley and songwriter and keyboard player David Egan, along with sax men Dickie Landry and Pat Breaux and steel guitarist Richard Comeaux, to join together to play gigs around Louisiana. The film showed the sheer enjoyment that these guys - all of them well known in their own musical fields - got out of the experience.
Without a break, the band began playing the moment the film ended and it was clear we were in for an exciting evening. At first, the ultra loud guitar playing of C C Adcock, the straight ahead rock approach and the slightly muffled vocals suggested that this might not live up to previous Lil' Band of Gold gigs that I've seen - in New Orleans and Lafayette. C C Adcock looks every inch the rock star, in a Russell Brand kind of way, and I wondered if he had had maybe too much influence over the band's approach. But he loves Louisiana music and this was a set that just got better and better. Warren Storm set the tone with some genuine swamp pop, including Those Lonely Lonely Nights, and his teenage enthusiasm belied his 74 years. And then Tommy McLain came on, complete with trademark Father Christmas beard, and ran through some of his own swamp pop standards, including Before I Grow Too Old (my personal motto), Baby Doll and Sweet Dreams.
By this time the whole band was on fire, with C C Adcock's blistering guitar work complementing Steve Riley's accordion, David Egan's inspired keyboard playing, Warren Storm's manic drumming and the excellent sax playing. There were storming performances of Seven Letters and Blue Monday by Warren Storm, hammering away on his drums, the Bobby Charles number I Don't Want To Know, and sensational rocking versions of Seven Nights of Rock and Lucille. After nearly two hours of blistering rock and roll and swamp pop the band came back for an encore of Promised Land, featuring Steve Riley's accordion, and a brilliant version of the swamp pop anthem Mathilda.
There was a decent sized crowd for this show, many of them young, no doubt reflecting Lily Allen's interest in the band, but Lil' Band of Gold didn't compromise in their approach. When I saw them in New Orleans last year at the House of Blues they had numerous guest stars performing with them, including Elvis Costello, Dr John and Jon Cleary, (the time before was at the down home Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge), but they didn't need any special guests this time. They brought the house down all by themselves.


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