Monday, June 29, 2015

Rocking at the Borderline once more

The latest Tales From The Woods all star rock and roll heritage show at London's Borderline last night kept up the high standards of recent shows, with some new faces, including Jona Lewie and Mike Sagar, as well as some artists who have starred on previous shows. Once again the Tales From The Woods band provided excellent support, with John Spencely again leading from the front on guitar, ably supported by Claire Hamlin on keyboards, Alex Bland and Sid Phillips on tenor and baritone sax, Jeff Tuck keeping time admirably on drums and Robb Davis on bass. Sadly there was rather a thin audience this time around, but those who were there certainly had their money's worth from a show that rocked from beginning to end. Keith Woods (pictured below) look well pleased with the music, although he must be concerned about the size of the crowd.
After a couple of numbers from MC for the evening Robb Shenton (Down The Line and My Babe), the show got off to a rocking start with Cliff Edmunds, a star of previous shows. He fairly tore into a series of rock and roll standards including Corrine Corrina, Be My Guest, Fannie Brown Got Married, Fats Domino's Hello Josephine - featuring a great sax break by Alex - and She Walks Right In. He slowed things down with Little Anthony's Tears On My Pillow, then rocked again with Sugaree and Smiley Lewis's Real Gone Lover, featuring some brilliant keyboard work from Claire. The Platters' My Prayer showed off Cliff's vocal range along with Teenage Heaven and, as an encore, I Can't Believe You Wanna Leave bringing this exciting set to a close. An excellent way to start but could the other acts compete? The answer, happily, was a resounding yes.
The next act was something of an unknown quantity - a double act featuring Mike Sagar, who had a 1961 hit with Deep Feeling, and his guitarist friend Richard Harding, who had some success in the same year with an instrumental version of Jezebel. Between them they brought some great Northern humour to the show with a series of amusing anecdotes and jokes. It was like Sunday night at the Wheeltappers and Shunters. Musically, both Mike and Richard proved highly effective, with Mike's voice and Richard's top notch guitar work working well together on a series of rock and blues numbers, plus their own hits of over 50 years ago. Mike began with Charlie Gracie's Fabulous and followed with Bye Bye Johnny, One Night, Matchbox, Goofin' Around (showing off Richard's expertise) and the country styled How's My Ex Treating You. Richard again showed off his guitar playing with Jerry Reed's Guitar Man and two tunes played together - Yankee Doodle and Dixie. Finally it was Bony Moronie, with John Spencely joining them on guitar, and Chuck Berry's Carol for an encore. A very good double act - and very funny.
It was back to hard nosed rock and roll for the next act Graham Fenton, formerly of Matchbox and another man who has appeared on Tales From The Woods shows in the past. Last time I saw him - in Spain last year -  he was doing a Gene Vincent impersonation, and I wasn't over impressed, but this time he was at the top of his game, even if there was a hint of Gene here and there, including his opening number Rocky Road Blues. Eddie Cochran's Something Else followed, along with Gene's Right Now, When You Ask About Love and Johnny Restivo's The Shape I'm In, which brought Alex Bland on stage. Carl Mann's Pretend was brought to life with a splendid guitar break from John, and Elvis's Give Me The Right, featured on Graham's Raging Heart album, slowed things down nicely. Then it was back to driving rock and roll with Buzz Buzz A Diddle It, the pleading I'll Try, I Got My Eyes On You, Southern Love and the ever popular Rockabilly Rebel. Graham encored with Ricky Nelson's Believe What You Say - a rocking climax to what had been an exciting and well received set.
Another Tales From The Woods favourite, Mike Berry, followed on stage and maintained the high standard. He focused on some of the lesser known rock and roll songs, and made a decent fist of them, even if he did have to read the lyrics from a stand in some cases meaning that he tended to look down, rather than at the audience. Once again the band provided superb backing as he ran through If I Had Me A Woman, Rock And Roll Ruby, Hurtin' Inside, Dick Curless's Travellin' Man, Try Me and Broken Heart, first recorded by the Moonlighters. Johnny Burnette's Little Boy Sad introduced an element of pop, as did Mike's own hit Don't You Think It's Time, but then it was back to the rock and roll with Foolish One, Jimmy Lloyd's Rocket In My Pocket and Barking Up The Wrong Tree. Another excellent set from Mike - a firm favourite at Woodies events and still on top form.
Final act was Jona Lewie, a man best known for his early 80s hits Kitchen At Parties and Don't Stop The Cavalry, but who started out as a boogie woogie pianist and bluesman. After a slightly nervous start - this was his first gig this year, he said - he got into his stride with a set which featured a number of New Orleans styled R and B numbers, including I'm Ready, Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Blue Monday, Lawdy Miss Clawdy and Sick And Tired. There were quite a few Jona Lewie fans in the house by this time, who will have enjoyed his Seaside Shuffle - recorded under the name of Terry Dactal and the Dinasours, while Jona was with Brett Marvin and Thunderbolts - and his synth pop hit Kitchen At Parties, played solo. Rock and roll fans may have been rather less impressed, but, after the instrumental Red River Rock, he got back into the groove with Fats's I'm In Love Again, Sweet Little Sixteen and Elvis's My Baby left Me - first recorded by Arthur Big Boy Crudup, a bluesman who he backed in the seventies. Overall this was an interesting set which went down well with the audience.
So, another triumph for the indefatigable Keith Woods - his second major show this year. His promotions are unique in bringing together British acts from the late fifties and early sixties and turning them into genuine rock and roll gigs with excellent support and imaginative set lists, rather than just oldies revivals, and long may they last. But let's hope that the next show attracts the crowd that these shows deserve.
Here are a couple of photos of the excellent Tales From The Woods band.
And a couple of Woodies in the crowd.


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