It’s hard to remember a time when Roger Chapman looked happier than tonight. He seems positively relaxed and beaming in front of a twenty foot illuminated banner bearing his name, He compliments his band members and then extends his appreciation to the venue, just as the lighting director repays his enthusiasm by fading the lights to black and plunging his lyric sheet into darkness.
It’s a minor blip on an otherwise rocking night on which Roger dips into his solo career back catalogue and then crosses over a couple of generations to segue the closing ‘Shadow On The Wall’ into Family’s ‘Hey Mr. Policeman’, complete with Nicky Payne muscular horn refrain. There’s also a celebratory ‘Top Of The Hill and more inevitably perhaps, a growled out encore of ‘Burlesque’
Tonight, Chappo’s voice is arguably the strongest it’s been in the last 5 years and he attacks his material with gusto. He phrases eloquently and fleetingly reminds us of his unique vibrato.
He contents himself with occasional aggressive handclaps and moments when he rocks from side to side on the balls of his feet, in a moment of apparent reverie while striking the pose of a conductor with an extended thumb and forefinger. The moment is suddenly broken as he ushers in a solo and comes back to the hook of the song.
He frequently veers into a musically related streams of consciousness that lead him to the Streetwalkers rap ‘Toenail Draggin’ and the gloriously descending hook of ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’’.
The Shortlist do him proud. Guitarist Geoff Whitehorn and horn player Nicky Payne share double lines and intertwine sinuously. Keyboard player Paul Hirsh adds nuanced fills and the rhythm section of John Lingwood and Gary Twigg push the grooves to the limit.
The set has a seamless flow to it. Whitehorn’s clean resonant notes build up a head of steam from the opening riffs of ‘Prisoner’, to the extended solo on the imperious ‘Jukebox Mama’ – sung with real swagger by Chappo – though to the rolling guitar line of ‘Sweet Vanilla’ and the searingly intense solo on ‘Who Pulled The Night Down’.
He brings a slightly heavier presence to bear on the magnificent swing of ‘Crosstown’, which is transformed from a roots rocker to something with bit more clout, but retains it’s swing because of Lingwood’s lightness of touch.
The defining moment of the night however, comes on Chappo’s emotive reading of Dylan’s ‘Blind Willie McTell’. The band produces a sonorous drone and Roger shapes the song with perfect phrasing and an earthy delivery.
The intricate arrangement comprises a gently bedded synth, crisp percussion and beautifully tone colours from Payne. You suspect that for all the magnificent music Roger has given us down the years this is one song he would love to have written.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Mark Hughes (MHP Studios)
In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)
Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)
THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)
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