David Randall chatted to James Warren in June 2017 for an hour special on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. This includes tracks from all aspects of his career including Stackridge, The Korgis and solo.
James Warren may well have channelled his inner John Lennon in this rare gig, but what it did demonstrate is the power of his own great songwriting, vocals and bass. Corralling such a happy bunch of musicians is no mean feat either.
For Warren Watchers there was something to please from all aspects of his career. Sadly his first major recording band Stackridge played their last gig – also in Bristol – back in 2015. This was particularly sad because a few years earlier they’d released one of their best albums – ‘A Victory For Common Sense’ – which could have been the conduit to wider, mainstream acceptance.
Thankfully we heard two songs from that album tonight, including the rebooted ‘Boots And Shoes’ (originally a Korgis song!), along with the more quirky first single ‘Dora The Explorer’.
Although billed as The Korgis it was clear from the start that the brief was wider and in fact there was always a bit of overlap with latter day Stackridge. But, pleasingly, Warren featured heavily his excellent recent solo outing Innocent Bystander.
He was aided throughout by a cracking band including three backing vocalists – Ava, Emmy and Jay – who provided both visual and aural enhancement, even if their am-dram diversion during ‘Cold Tea’ didn’t really suit that song’s gritty delivery and couldn’t be seen by most of the audience.
This was an evening of highlights and surprises, not least a nod to Steve Lindsey (who with The Planets was also signed to Rialto Records) and the John Baker sung ‘Lines’. Baker then fronted the very fine ‘One Life’ (from 1992′s This World’s For Everyone, one of those underrated albums that also yielded the excellent ‘Wreckage Of A Broken Heart’ and re-made ‘All The Love In The World’ although, sadly, both omitted tonight).
‘One Life’ really represented a stage band at the top of their game – it was like listening to a souped-up recorded version – and it was followed by yet another gem ‘Something About The Beatles’ which at once is a superb tribute and a wonderful song in it’s own right. It segued to a very accurate version of ‘A Day In The Life’.
Such greatness may have even overshadowed the “big hit” but, no, it could only get better and ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ brought the show to a close.
The Korgis may have been a very eighties phenomena but Warren demonstrated their songs (and his others) are still hugely relevant. Interpreted by such a happy and competent bunch of musicians – guitarist Al Steele’s jaws must have ached the following day – this gig should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Mention too of local folkie Barry Walsh who invited James Warren to join him at this local gig held in what was not unlike a school hall. He provided an entertaining opening set with his band which included fine contributions from Sarah Mitchell on violin and backing vocals (Sarah appears on that last Stackridge studio outing).
Setlist: This World’s For Everyone/Boots and Shoes/The First Time/If I Had You/Have You Seen The Colours/High Time/Lines/Dumb Waiters/If It’s Alright With You Baby/Cold Tea/First Kiss/Dora The Female Explorer/Fundamentally Yours/Set Me Free/True Life Confessions/Lost And Found/Everybody Needs Somebody To Love/That’s What You Do To Me/One Life/Something About The Beatles/A Day In The Life/Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime/Mount Everest Sings The Blues
Review and photos by David Randall
The Korgis play The Globe, Cardiff, Saturday 20 July.
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