To the uninitiated, there is probably a view that all gigs are the same; you go along, act comes on stage, you watch, they go off, you go home.... and whilst that is probably a description at its most basic level, we all know there is much more going on than that. Each and every gig is totally unique, and they can all evoke very different feelings and emotions;
Back in the late 90's through to the mid 2000's, I saw The Pirates a number of times - Johnny Kidd's original backing band. Watching Mick Green's guitar work was worth the entry fee alone. I've never seen anyone play quite like he was able to, and the sounds he squeezed out of his guitar were simply amazing. I'll always remember walking up to the stage with a friend after one of these gigs, to see exactly what pedals and kit Mick had as his disposal. We were both open mouthed when we saw that there were no pedals and no kit! Just a Fender Telecaster plugged directly into an amp. Every sound he created was man-made. Sadly, Mick passed away earlier this year, but I will always look back on those gigs with great fondness.
Wilko is a man who doesn't look right without a Telecaster strapped to him. A long time ago, man and guitar merged, and it became part of his body... rarely do you see some THIS comfortable with a guitar! I'd imagine he's more nervous without it. Everything you want from the man is here, as he breezes through classic solo and Feelgood tunes... that incredible guitar playing, the Wilko stare, the Wilko gurn, the Wilko waltz... at one point his Tele transforms into a machine gun, and in classic Feelgood style, Wilko guns down half the audience!
But don't go thinking that Wilko is the only thing worth watching here... Norman Watt-Roy is quite possibly the most mesmerising bass player I've ever seen, and at times it's hard to take your eyes off of the man. Watt-Roy is no oil painting, looking more than a little like a skull on a stick... But he's not always that handsome... his contorted, gurning face is amazing to watch, as he loses himself in his musicianship and wrings out every note from his instrument. I don't think I've ever watched a bass player as much at a gig as I did on this evening!
And behind all this showmanship sits Dylan Howe.... a genuinely respected stick man, he's played with em all over the years.. Nick Cave, Damon Albarn, Ray Davies, David Gilmour, even Macca McCartney has employed the man. He can't compete with the onstage antics of Messrs Johnson and Watt-Roy, but he certainly can match them in talent... pulling together all the threads to make this one of the tightest (and nosiest!) three-pieces I've ever seen.
And just when you thought the evening had rocked till it couldn't rock no more.... "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Lew Lewis!". Right there, up on that same stage... Original member of the Southside Jug Band with Lee Brilleaux back in the late 60's, early member of (Paul Grey era) Eddie and the Hot Rods, Feelgood and Wilko solo collaborator, and legendary harmonica player to boot! The last I heard of Mr Lewis was when he got 7 years at Her Majesties pleasure for an attempted armed robbery!
What a night! It was one of those gigs that makes you thank the Lord that you became a music nut... the best hobby in the world!! imagine being oblivious to all this!
Oh, and if that wasn't enough, support came from the excellent 'Eight Rounds Rapid', featuring a cracking young guitarist by the name of Simon Johnson... yup, you guessed it, son of Wilko!
Not from the Canvey show, but a great live clip of Wilko and Norman doing the Feelgood classic 'She Does It Right':
not taken from the Canvey gig, and not the greatest of sound quality... but a great little peep into a Wilko gig from side of stage, and some fabulous Wilko and Norman gurnin' and a rockin' too!