Free At Last!
And so we came to the last LSBC offering of 2021, marking the half-way stage on the current season of concerts. It’s been a packed programme recently, but no-one’s complaining about that!
Last night’s offering was as good as a double-header as far as I was concerned.
Drafted in at relatively short notice as the support act was local legend Jon Amor, a man I’ve seen many a time as the head-liner. He bounced onto the stage brandishing an acoustic guitar, and looking full of beans. It seemed strange and unusual not to see him backed up with one or other of his bands, particular King Street Turnaround, as I last saw him at the Southgate recently. But there was no stopping him as he confidently blew through several songs, and at one time wandering out in to the audience to sing acapella before returning to the stage to finish the song. It takes guts and panache to pull that sort of thing off, but it worked wonderfully. Highlight song for me this time, as often before, was “Another Stitch In Your Party Dress”. It was a great short set – chipper, upbeat, confident. Great to see Jon in such great form.
Main act was Terry Slesser’s 5-piece Kossoff – The Band Plays On, who produced two confident and polished sets. They were last at LSBC back in May 2019, which I remember as one of the highlight gigs of that year. I won’t bang on about Free/ Bad Company/ Back Street Crawler being the soundtrack to my musical upbringing in the late 60s/ early 70s but….but…well, they just were. And, yet again, it was soooo good to hear some of their songs knocked out with precision, love and energy. Slesser, taking lead vocals, is no Paul Rodgers in either looks or voice, but he certainly makes up for it in passion and delivery. His command of the band and his easy connection with the audience were winning features. And the band, again no look-alikes, were terrific when it came to that lovely sludgy, driving Andy Fraser bass and that Paul Kossoff squealing lead guitar.
They kicked off with Free’s “Fire and Water”, a stonking opener which immediately put down an early marker of intent. I’ve said before that these guys are no mere “tribute” band, content to slog through a greatest-hits set and take the money. This was much more about “homage” to some truly gifted musicians and song-writers, nicely capturing the sound and the feel of the early 70s, with Slesser’s personal recollections of Paul Kossoff interspersing the songs. And the song selection itself was interesting and respectful, delivering some of the lesser-known numbers, such as “Long Way Down To The Top” and “All The Girls Are Crazy” (Back Street Crawler), “Walk In My Shadow”, and “I’ll Be Creeping” (Free). And there was the more subtle, non-rocking stuff, such as “Be My Friend”, proving that the band (like all the great rock bands) were not just one-trick ponies, but capable of writing tender and thoughtful lyrics.
Of course there was the usual leavening of stonking hits – “The Stealer”, “My Brother Jake” and (inevitably) “All Right Now” – which all went down a storm. And, just as Free themselves used to do back in the day, delivering their well-deserved encore that thumping blues classic “The Hunter”.
Great entertainment, and a great night out. Another great booking by Ian Hopkins.
Friday 14th January 2022 Chicago Living Legends
Saturday 5th February 2022 Tinsley Ellis
Saturday 19th February 2022 Mike Zito Band
Saturday 26th February 2022 Mark Flanagan Band
Friday 4th March 2022 Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)
Saturday 19th March 2022 Soft Machine
Saturday 2nd April 2022 Alastair Greene Band
Friday 8th April 2022 Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall
Saturday 9th April 2022 Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)
Saturday 16th April 2022 Billy Walton Band
Friday 6th May 2022 Birdmens
Saturday 17 September 2022 CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)
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