John Mayall and Chicken Shack Gateshead Sage 2006
The last time I saw John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers was at the Sage Gateshead in 2006. This was another superb double bill, showcasing John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers alongside Stan Webb and Chicken Shack. I’ve already written about Stan the Man Webb and his fine guitar prowess, and will unashamedly use my entry today as a further excuse to do so. Stan is one of the best blues rock guitarists around, but in my view he rarely gets the credit he deserves. He mixes excellent technique with a real blues feel, and understands how to use tone and sound dynamics to great effect. My favourite Chicken Shack songs are the rock numbers from his early 70s albums, such as Poor Boy, and Daughter of the Hillside. If you get the chance listen to the track Poor Boy, and you’ll see what I mean about the use of dynamics. The song starts very quietly, but Stan and the rest of his band soon come thundering in with a great riff and drums, usually deafeningly loud. Stan’s not a bad blues singer either. This concert saw Chicken Shacl opening for the legend that is John Mayall, and his Bluesbreakers, who again featured Buddy Whittington on guitar. A great pairing and a great gig. The line up for the Bluesbreakers was Mayall, Whittington, Joe Yuele, and Hank Van Sickle. Chicke Shack featured Webb, Jum Rudge, Gary Davis and Mick Jones. From the programme: “Good Evening and Welcome. British Blues Legends John Mayall and Stan Webb join forces on a musical bill that promises blues at its very finest – it just doesn’t come better than this!”
I recently bought a live DVD of Stan and Chicken Shack. The tracklisting gives an idea of a typical set (although Poor Boy is sadly missing): So Tell Me; The Thrill Has Gone; Reconsider Baby; I Know You Know Me; You Are The Sweetest Little Thing/Hurt; Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack Opera; Spoonful; Doctor Brown 10. I’d Rather Go Blind; The Daughter Of The Hillside; Stan’s Blues.
Its been a few years since I’ve seen Stan Webb or John Mayall in concert; something I intend to put right when I get the chance. Mayall is promising to tour the UK for his 80th birthday in October 2014, which is a tour to look forward to.
Archive for the ‘Chicken Shack’ Category
John Mayall and Chicken Shack Gateshead Sage 2006
John Mayall Chicken Shack Mick Taylor Newcastle City Hall 2004
The next time I saw John Mayall was on a strong triple bill of Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Stan Webb and Chicken Shack ,and Mick Taylor. I am a big fan of Stan and Chicken Shack. I’ve always thought that he is a greatly under-rated guitarist, easily on a par with Clapton and Page. The surprise for me on the night was just how great Mick Taylor was. I saw him with the Stones in the early 70s, where his playing really shone on the bluesier tracks like Stray Cat Blues and Midnight Rambler. I then saw him perform a quite shambolic concert in a marquee somewhere behind Gateshead stadium one night, some time in the 1980s. On this tour in 2004, Mick Taylor was back on form and gave the other guitarists Stan Webb and Buddy Whittington a run for their money. Stan and Chicken Shack were first up followed by an interval, during which I surprised to be greeted by John Mayall at the merchandise stall, so I bought his latest CD and got it signed. After the break, Mayall and his band took to the stage, with Mick Taylor guesting for part of the set. On this tour Mayall and the Bluesbreakers drew heavily from his back catalogue, probably more so than on other recent tours including a note perfect version of “All your Love” from the Beano album. When Mick Taylor joined, they also played songs from the Crusade album which debuted the guitarist at the yoin age of 18. Songs played included: Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Walking On Sunset, Oh, Pretty Woman (from Crusade, an Albert King song and not the Roy Orbison track), and of course my own favourite Room To Move.
Stan Webb and Chicken Shack
Stan Webb is massively under-rated as a guitarist. In my view, he stands up there with Clapton and Peter Green as one the great British blues guitarists. He’s also a great showman, and a great character on stage. I’ve spent many happy nights in the company of Stan and various line-ups of Chicken Shack over the years. My first encounters were a couple of spots as support act for The Groundhogs, probably in 1971 or 1972. One gig was at the City Hall, and the Groundhogs didn’t appear for some reason, so Chicken Shack took on the headline spot. This was no mean feat, as the City Hall was sold out, and we were all waiting to see Tony McPhee and the guys, who were in the charts with Split at the time. However, we were assured that The Groundhogs would play in a couple of weeks, and that if we all held on to our tickets we would see the return gig for free (which we did!). Stan and the guys truly rose to the occasion that night and delivered a great set. This was around the time of the Imagination lady album, and Chicken Shack were a three piece at the time, featuring Stan on lead and vocals, John Glascock (soon to leave to join Jethro Tull) on bass guitar, and Paul Hancox on drums. I remember them playing “Crying Won’t Help You” and great versions of B B King’s “The Thrill is Gone” and Tim Hardin’s “If I were a Carpenter”, all of which sometimes feature in the set to this day. The other vivid memory I have is of Stan walking to the back of the City Hall through a crowd of people filling the aisles, still playing his guitar all the time. This was well before the days of radio connections, and it was all done with a massively long guitar lead. I saw Stan do the same thing many times over the years, including one night in a ram packed Newcastle Mayfair, where he had to work his way across a packed dancefloor (he was always accompanied by a roadie) and then stood in front of the bar playing a solo to the delight of all of us around him. I recall a couple of gigs in the Mayfair, one with The Groundhogs at the time of the “Who Will Save the World” album, and another supporting Vinegar Joe. I’ve always tried to catch Stan and Chicken Shack when they come to the North East, and have seen him in Whitley Bay Dome, Middlesbrough Ladle, Sunderland Kazbah, Newcastle Dingwalls, Newcastle Jewish Mother restaurant (over a pizza meal), Newcastle Tyne Theatre, Hexham Royal Hotel (Stan was very chatty on stage that night, and had probably had a few drinks), The Sage Gateshead with John Mayall, Newcastle City Hall (again with Mayall), Sunderland Ropery, and probably several other gigs that I’ve forgotten over the years. My mate Will has been with me at several of these gigs, and also agrees that Stan is a great guitar player. Every time Stan’s guitar playing has been superb; he never lets you down. If you want to check him out, go to Youtube and look for “Poor Boy” and “Daughter of the Hillside” and you’ll soon see what I mean. Chicken Shack are, of course, best remembered by many for their hit Single “I’d Rather Go Blind”, which they recored when Christine Perfect was in the band. Christine went on to mega-stardom with Fleetwood Mac, and is now retired. By the time I picked up on Chicken Shack in the early 70s, Christine had long left the band. Its been a few years since I last saw Chicken Shack, as Stan doesn’t seem to tour quite as extensively as he once did. However, I see that he is headlining a blues festival in York in September, which I may go along to if I can make it. Stan’s current line-up features Gary Davis on second guitar, Jim Rudge on bass and Chris Williams on drums (according to Wiki).