Disappointment was all I found upon cramming myself around Glasto’s main stage to catch the legend who is Bob Dylan many years ago. The senior star wobbled on stage, croaked a few songs from his new album and buggered off as if the UK’s premier festival was the back room of a pub; a far cry from witnessing the chap in his prime.
That said, the Endorse-it-in Dorset festival 2005 headlined the mighty Desmond Dekker, who just a year from sadly passing away, rocked the festival like a teenage hopeful with a voice and raw energy which time never faded.
Here then is the gamble of opening your wallet for a ticket to a legendary performance and an argument for the tribute act. I have a love/hate relationship with the notion of tribute acts, my initial criticism thwarted upon checking out videos to the Legend Live Bob Marley Tribute coming to Melksham and Swindon in the coming months, as here is someone you’ll never unfortunately see live. Thus this tribute act is truly a tribute, but how do they pit against a band still touring?
1980s Two-tone nutter, who made the Nutty Boys contain less nuts by comparison, Buster Bloodvessel and his band Bad Manners are currently touring, the closet they’ll get to us is the Cheese & Grain in Frome on 1st June, The Fleece in Bristol 19th August, Swindon Mecca on 30th November and Salisbury City Hall on 7th December.
Yeah, fairly close, and check out recent YouTube concerts of Bad Manners, older, none-the-wiser; he’s still “got it,” but it’ll will take Devizes bods some organising of transport, short straws for a designated driver, unsteady stomachs homebound with a chance of a pavement pizza showers; another valid argument for a tribute act. Face facts, few legendary performers will approach Nursteed Road without a large enough venue to accommodate them on arrival, and no such venue will materialise with only a handful of its population eager to pay.
Our rural dilemma patched up with a plethora of tribute acts, varying in quality. The Devizes Scooter Club pulled it out of the bag last night though, when Special Brew, the UK’s top tribute act to Bad Manners arrived, shook the rafters and skanked the crowd into a pliable hop and frenzy of can-can dancing, in a way I’d previously have thought only the real Buster Bloodvessel could have, in his prime.
The act was so convincing from whatever angle you took, the frontman looked the part, sounded the part and engaged with the audience with all the amusing irrational outbursts of Buster. He rinsed the Bad Manners catalogue from known classics to the lesser, added some covers I’m unsure if Buster ever did or not, uncaringly. There were moments on the dancefloor when you wondered where he’d gone, as he paraded the Cons Club in Union Jack leotard outrageously heckling his audience.
The band never missed a beat and were sublime in backing up this resounding act, the saxophonist particularly proficient being she’d played with the real McCoy, but I credit the lively keyboardist and whole shebang for adding only spice to the roast.
We covered the ins and outs of Special Brew in our preview, read it here as there’s little point in going over it again. Needless to say they left me with the notion, if a tribute can be this good, it’s well worth the time. Put it this way, although I paid less than half the ticket price I’d have to fork out for Bad Manners, travel expenses and efforts aside, did I have only half the show, or half the fun? No.
Trilbies off once again to the Devizes Scooter Club, for bringing the town a retrospective evening of pure entertainment and fun; I love you, yes I do, cos I know you’ll put on a cracking do!