REVIEW – Billy Bremner’s Rockfile @ LSBC, Devizes – Friday 8th April 2022

Old Skool

Andy Fawthrop

Another night at Long Street Blues Club but on this particular evening we had an enforced change of venue from the Con Club – downstairs at the Corn Exchange.  Yes – in The Bin!

The support act James Oliver and his band was well chosen in terms of style.  He played the same sort of stuff as the main act that was to follow.  Unfortunately his performance relied more on speed and volume, and self-deprecation of his own Welsh-ness, rather than on any particularly musical ability.  His set was very same-y, apart a fairly pleasant and accomplished version of Peter Green’s “Albatross”.  But otherwise it was all high energy, but low talent.  Sorry, but best forgotten.

Then onto the main act.  Not to be confused with namesake feisty former Leeds United midfielder (if you don’t know – ask your dad), Billy Bremner started life as a member of Lulu and the Luvvers (oh – better ask dad again).  However, he’s best known for being with Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds and Terry Williams, one quarter of Rockpile, one of the finest bands ever to emerge from the United Kingdom music scene. A fearsomely accomplished guitarist, he has also been an occasional lead vocalist, as well as a great songwriter.  Since the break-up of Rockpile he’s had an illustrious career as a solo performer (four albums), and as a member of the Pretenders (that’s him playing the lead guitar on Back On The Chain Gang).  He’s also played with Shakin’ Stevens, Carlene Carter, and The Coal Porters.  Most recently he’s worked as a producer and all round living legend in his adopted home, Sweden.

Now aged 75, this is the Farewell Tour for one of Britain’s finest guitarists and, as expected, the evening was dedicated to the music of Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile.  The four-piece played two sets, kicking off without introduction or pre-amble.  In fact there was extremely little in the way of between-song chat, and little attempt to engage with the audience.  Dressed all in black, and rarely cracking a smile, they presented a rather dour stage presence.  We had the classics like “I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock & Roll”, “I Hear You Knocking”, “Cruel To Be Kind” and even Kirsty McColl’s “There’s A Guy Down The Chip Shop”, interspersed with other material.

To be honest, it wasn’t the great performance I’d been expecting.  It seemed a step down from last time I’d seen the band a few years back at the Con Club.  It was all rather single-paced, one-dimensional stuff, with little variation to leaven the mixture.  As good old pub-rock, rockabilly, power-pop, it was OK but, frankly, difficult to get too excited about.  It was chunky, but at times it was plodding.  Billy’s vocals sounded rather reedy and thin.  And not at any stage of the night did any of the band actually look as if they were enjoying what they were doing – more a case of going through the motions.  It was competent, and it was professional, but it just wasn’t engaging or exciting.  It seemed as if the spark had gone.

I can’t say it was a bad gig, because it wasn’t.  But somehow it just never seemed to really take off.  The crowd, being unusually rather small for an LSBC gig, just couldn’t quite generate much atmosphere.  I guess you can’t like every performer and every gig – and this was just one of those that didn’t click with me.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 4th June 2022                                   Errol Linton Band

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express

Saturday 8th October 2022                            Eddie Martin Big Blues Band

Saturday 5th November 2022                       Alastair Greene Band


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One thought on “REVIEW – Billy Bremner’s Rockfile @ LSBC, Devizes – Friday 8th April 2022”

  1. Sorry Andy, can’t agree with you on this review. James Oliver had great humour and energy and really made me smile. OK, Billy Bremner was a bit low key and his voice wasn’t great but presumably that’s why he’s retiring. I enjoyed the memories of the music and the atmosphere was OK. It was nice to sit in a comfy chair for a change. Now don’t get me going on Carl Palmer. The ego of a drummer is a sad thing.


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