The Magic Band The Cluny Newcastle 11 March 2013
I went to see the reformed Magic Band last night at the Cluny. The Magic Band reformed in 2003, minus Captain Beefheart (who sadly passed away in 2010). The current line-up includes members John French (aka ‘Drumbo’, who first joined the band in the 60s) on lead vocals and mean harp playing, ‘Rockette Morton’ (who was also with the Captain in the late 60s and early 70s) on bass and Denny Walley (aka ‘Feelers Rebo’ who joined the band during the 70s) on guitar. These three old-timers are joined by Eric Klerks on guitar and Craig Bunch on drums. My first surprise was how packed the place was. The Cluny was full of 50 and 60 somethings, largely but not exclusively male, who knew every word and gave the band a great reception. The second surprise was just how good the Magic Band of today are, and how true to the original they play the songs. Drumbo is a great front man and has the Captain’s vocals off to a T. I remember the first time I heard Trout Mask Replica, when it came out in the late 60s. I just couldn’t believe what was coming out of my stereo. The strange disjointed sounds were so different to anything else around at the time, and when you put on top of that Beefheart’s strange growls, you had an album the like of which had never been heard before. The music still sounds kind of weird today, but it remains clear how deeply routed in the blues it was, and how important a part of the music Drumbo and the others were. Oh, and it was just great to hear Diddy Wah Diddy live. If you are into Beefheart and you get the chance to see this band, do go along. Many thanks to Drumbo for signing my poster. Setlist: My Human Gets Me Blues; Low Yo Yo Stuff; Diddy Wah Diddy; Bass solo; When It Blows Its Stacks; Hot Head; Dr Dark; Circumstances; On Tomorrow; Alice in Blunderland; Suction Prints; Hair Pie Bake I; Steal Softly Thru The Snow; Owed T’Alex; Click Clack; Sun Zoom Spark; Moonlight on Vermont; Big Eyed Beans From Venus. Encore: Floppy Boot Stomp
Just remembered I also saw the Magic Band when they were touring as Mallard in 1976 or 1977 at the Mayfair and the Reading festival.