The Pretty Things at the Colne R&B Festival 30 August 2010
The Pretty Things were one of my favourite bands in the late 60s and early 70s. I bought a copy of S F Sorrow for a few shillings in a second hand shop in Sunderland shortly after it came out and played and played it. I couldn’t believe how good it was and yet it seemed that no-one else had heard it at the time. I then saw the band several times in the early to mid 70s. Everything was great about them; Phil May’s hair was longer than mine (made me so jealous) and the mix of R&B, rock and psych in their music was unlike any other band at the time. Its been around 10 years since I last saw the Pretty Things; time to see them again.
I arrived late in Colne on Sunday night having driven across via Harrogate. The Trevor Burton band were taking the stage as I picked up my wrist band for the International Stage and ventured into the Municipal Hall where the action was. Trevor had taken the place of Peter Green who is sadly unwell. His set was a healthy mix of blues and 60s rock; he closed with Traffic’s Mr Fantasy and Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love. After a short break our compere (wearing a fetching sombrero!) introduced The Pretty Things. The time was now 11pm (a bit on the late side for me!). The current line up comprises Phil May and Dick Taylor from the original band alongside Frank Holland who has been with the band for some years and relative new comers George Perez, Mark St John and Jack Greenwood. Didn’t recognise the first number, but they were soon playing songs that I knew, largely drawn from their early 60s hit singles and their 60s and 70s albums. So we got Don’t Bring me Down and Havana Bound early on in the set. The power is still there and Phil May’s voice sounds as strong as ever. The band are all dressed in black suits, white shirts and blakc ties; ala The Blue Brothers (!). After a few songs Phil introduces a couple of songs from S F Sorrow: S F Sorrow is Born and Baron Saturday, for which Dick Taylor takes the vocals. About half way through the set Phil tells us how he used to look up to Dick and Keith Richard at school and how they used to sing together during lunch breaks. This leads into a great short acoustic blues set with Phil on vocals and Dick sitting down playing slide guitar. Frank joins for a couple of the songs on blues harp. Then we are back to the hard edged R&B that the early 60s Pretty Things were known for: Midnight to Six Man, Mona (in tirbute to “their mentor” Bo Diddley), and Buzz the Jerk. On Hoochie Coochie Man Phil tells us that he usually sings the song with his mate Arthur Brown. LSD (is it innappropriate for 65+ men to sing of drugs like this?) leads into the great Old Man Going from S F Sorrow. The encore is Rosalyn which takes us back to the early 60s again. Lots of people dancing and even though it is 12.45am no-one seems to want to go. Great stuff. These guys can still do it and show no sign of stopping now.
So I go out and brave the windy rounds across the moors. Get home about 3am, tired but pleased that I made the trip.
Setlist included (but not in this order):
Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut
Buzz the Jerk
Raining in my heart
The Beat Goes On
Don’t Bring Me Down
S.F. Sorrow Is Born
Midnight To Six Man
Hoochie Coochie Man
Come See Me
L.S.D. / Old Man Going
Blues festival website: http://www.bluesfestival.co.uk/