Great British R&B Festival Colne August 26th 2013. Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson

Great British R&B Festival Colne August 26th 2013. Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson
band Marie and I spent the bank holiday Monday afternoon at the Great British R&B Festival, which is held each year in Colne, Lancashire. Yesterday afternoon’s line-up was particularly strong, featuring Chris Farlowe, Climax Blues Band, The Pretty Things, and Wilko Johnson on the International Stage which is in the Municipal Hall on the main street.
The Norman Beaker Band opened the proceedings at 2pm. Or rather the proceedings were actually opened by the crazy compare, wearing a fluorescent suit and hat. The guy did a great job on introducing the bands, changing his suit and hat throughout the day, getting more and emore outrageous as the day went on. Norman and the guys played a couple of songs before they were joined by Chris Farlowe. It’s a few years since I saw Chris. His voice was as soulful as ever, and the years haven’t diminished his energy or style. They played a set of favourites including Stormy Monday Blues; Tough on you, Tough on me; The Small Faces’ hit All or Nothing, and Handbags and Gladrags. They closed with (of course) his big hit Out of Time. The guy remains a master of R&B. Pure class and a great way to start the day.
Next up was The Climax Blues Band. Now if its a few years since I saw Chris, it’s even longer since I saw these guys in concert. In fact I think the last time I saw them was probably I the mid 70s. The line-up has changed many times over the years, with no-one remaining from the early days of the band. The current band continues the Climax traditional of recreating an authentic Chicago blues sound. We slipped out for something to eat,but got back in time to catch the end of their set, including their hit single Couldn’t Get It Right. colneprog The Pretty Things are a big favourite of mine, and they never let me down. The current line-up of the band features originals Phil May on vocals, tambourine and maracas, and Dick Taylor on guitar, along with long standing Pretty Frank Holland on guitar and mouth organ. They started the set with a couple of old R&B tunes, and the classic Cries From the Midnight Circus. Phil then explained that, although it was a blues festival, they had to play something from their classic album S F Sorrow. So next up was S F Sorrow is Born and She Says Good Morning. The three front men then switched to acoustic mode to sing a couple of old blues: Come on in my Kitchen, and Little Red Rooster, featuring some excellent slide guitar from Dick, growling vocals from Phil and great blues harp courtesy of Frank. These guy know how to sing the blues, and they just held the place spellbound. Then it was back to their old rock roots for Mona, and Midnight to Six Man. Great stuff. The Pretty Things were swiftly followed by the great Wilko Johnson. Wilko’s situation has been well documented, and his recent appearances have apparently all been joyous celebrations of his music and legend. Thankfully Wilko is still able to play and, in his own words: ‘It seems that I am still being spared the final onslaught of my terminal cancer. As the memory of the Farewell Tour recedes I am feeling again the desire to get up on stage and do my thing while health allows – so it is that I have decided to make some festival appearances during during the summer’. wilko He had asked specially to play at the festival, having done so several times in the past, and everyone present yesterday was delighted to see him. First Wilko was presented with an award for British Blues legend, he then started his set with the Feelgood’s song All Through the City, and also included the Feelgood classics Going Back Home, Roxette, Back in the Night and She Does It Right. The crowd clearly love the guy, and it was a very emotional show, with Wilko strutting his stuff back and forth across the stage, chopping away at his telecaster with those familiar riffs. Its many years since I’ve seen Wilko in concert and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to do so once more. I must also mention Norman Watt-Roy whose bass playing was simply stunning. Again, its many years since I’ve seen Norman perform, probably since I he was with Ian Drury and the Blockheads. The encore was a very emotional Bye Bye Johnny, with everyone waving Bye Bye to Wilko. The crowd were on their feet for a full 5 or 10 minutes after he finished, giving him a real standing ovation. Strong stuff.
We left after Wilko’s set, and drove back up north to pick Laura up and then return home.

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