If Steve Winwood’s only banter tonight included playful reference to both the ‘vintage’ crowd and the vintage music, we didn’t need to worry. The sheer historical potency – and nostalgia – was what the vintage crowd expected and what Winwood delivered.
Starting with the insistent ‘Rainmaker’ closely followed by ‘I’m A Man’, giving Winwood’s Hammond a chance to breathe and the band to stretch out, these were admirable scene setters. One of our best soulful voices, Winwood is also equally content behind the organ or guitar as he led the band through an inevitably cursory cross-section of his musical history. His mutton chop whiskers (perhaps in preparation for Glasto) now detract slightly from an ever youthful image.
A trawl through his Traffic past, the brief Blind Faith (if you couldn’t be there in Hyde Park in 1969 this was possibly the next best thing) and a couple of eighties ‘hits’ were punctuated by some extended set-pieces such as the Traffic songs ‘Low Spark…’ and ‘Light Up And Leave Me Alone’.
Multi-instrumentalist Paul Booth was particularly impressive on sax, flute, organ and backing vocals whilst José Pires de Almeida Neto played exemplary rhythm guitar if less convincing on the solos. Percussionists Richard Bailey (yes, the ace sessionist who graced Jeff Beck’s classic ‘Blow By Blow’ album) and Café da Silva supplemented the use of bass organ pedals to provide a funky undertow throughout.
Given that this was pretty much the ‘Nine Lives’ recording band (from 2008) it’s a shame we didn’t hear more of the newer stuff not least that album’s standout ‘Dirty City’.
Some might also bemoan the lack of ‘Valerie’ and ‘Talking Back To the Night’ (including this writer), but the emphasis tonight was really on the organ and the organic, following an axis from Spencer Davis Group via Traffic and with only a brief nod to those successes in the golden age of MTV.
In full flight, and punctuated by Winwood’s evocative keyboards or gutsy guitar, the band stated the case firmly for vintage rock and, moreover, their leader’s wonderful and enduring place in our collective musical and, yes, now vintage memories.
Review by David Randall
Photos by Simon Dunkerley
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Setlist: Rainmaker /I’m a Man /Fly /At Times We Do Forget /Can’t Find My Way Home / Had To Cry Today /Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys /Empty Pages /Back in the High Life Again /Light Up Or Leave Me Alone /Higher Love /Keep On Running
Encore: Dear Mr. Fantasy/Gimme Some Lovin’
On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)
Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)
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