Monday, October 17, 2011

Roy Young rocks at the Half Moon

There's nothing sophisticated or subtle about the music of Roy Young, who played a birthday gig at the Half Moon, Putney, last night. It was straight-ahead rocking boogie woogie from beginning to end as he belted through the Little Richard songbook, with occasional diversions through Larry Williams, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles territory. Roy got his start on Oh Boy in the late 50s when he impressed Jack Good, who was a Little Richard fan. He's played with a who's who of rock and roll, including Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and Little Richard himself, and later played with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers.

He's no originator (apart from his own composition Big Fat Mama - dedicated to his mum) but as an interpreter of early rock and roll he's 'incredible' - as his billing puts it. His band gave him great support, especially saxman Howie Casey (pictured below), whose early Liverpool band the Seniors once featured a young Freddie Starr (then known as Freddie Fowell) on vocals, and drummer Paul Gill.

Roy started with Slow Down, the Larry Williams number, but that was one thing he didn't do throughout his set. He showed off his strong boogie woogie playing on a string of Little Richard numbers (Can't Believe You Want To Leave, Bama Lama Bama Lu, Keep a Knockin', Ready Teddy, Hey Hey Hey Hey, She's Got It, Ooh My Soul and, as an encore, Lucille). He interspersed these with a few numbers from Fats Domino (Jambalaya, I'm Ready, Blue Monday and Ain't That A Shame), plus Ray Charles' Mess Around, Chuck Willis' Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes and Jerry Lee's Great Balls of Fire - with audience participation. His voice was getting stretched by the end as he blasted his way through this high octane set, but his piano bashing didn't let up for a moment.

Having seen Roy, Howie and the band at a couple of 2Is shows, I knew what to expect. He didn't disappoint and it was good to see him doing a full length set.


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