If 2020 was a desert for live music, the road out of lockdown in 2021 has been an even longer and gloomier slog. Down in South West London, Cavern owner Noel Nevin has been fighting the good fight to stay open all pandemic long. Indeed this solo show by Jim Kirkpatrick had already been rescheduled three times, so he spoke for all of us as he came on stage and cheerily shouted ‘its a f—ing gig’!
Best known for playing a key part in FM’s regeneration as their guitarist for the last 12 years, he has also collaborated with numerous people, most notably Bernie Marsden with whom he shares some similarities – a love of the blues but rooted in a melodic song-oriented sensibility. As a result his solo album ‘Ballad Of A Prodigal Son’ was one of last year’s pleasant surprises.
Opening the first of two short sets with the title track, he mixed by my reckoning five songs from the album with songs from other projects such as ‘Heavy Weather’. He possessed a confident and easy charm, telling anecdotes with a comedian’s timing about some of the people he has worked with, along with a running gag at the number of songs he wrote for other artists that were not used as intended.
Combined with his more than decent singing and energetic performance, Jim therefore made light of the potentially difficult task of a making one man acoustic performance work and hold people’s attention.
Anyone hoping for FM material was swiftly disabused of the notion as he modestly admitted only Steve Overland’s peerless voice could do those songs justice. Instead the set focused more on the blues, including ’61 and 49’, a slide driven number written in tribute to Robert Johnson (is it an unwritten rule that every blues artist must have one such song?) and a cover of ‘Malted Milk’ by the man himself. Originals ‘Ain’t Going Down Alone’ and ‘Always on the Road’ were particularly enjoyable.
Returning to the gig scene after such a long absence meant it was like rediscovering the joys of enjoying live music with like minded friends for the first time. Yes, there were adjustments, but dare I say I actually preferred the reduced capacity and more sedate atmosphere to the heaving crowds that normally pack this tiny neighbourhood bar to its very gills. Chatting to friends old and new as drinks were brought to circular tables gave the air of attending an agreeable wedding reception.
The second set opened with another impressive song from the album in ‘No Such Thing as a Sure Thing’ but was rather more covers heavy, starting with the full ‘part 1 and 2’ version of ‘Oh Well’ with Jim playing to the gallery as he teased the crowd with his guitar shape pulling. I was also delighted, with my AOR anorak hat on, to hear Jude Cole’s ‘House of Blues’, while he rocked out on ‘Got to Know’.
One of the highlights for me was his cover of the Lead Belly song popularised by Rory Gallagher, ‘Out on the Western Plain’, even getting his tongue round the ‘cow cow yicky yicky yay’ chorus. Best of all he ended the night with a storming version of ‘She’s Not There’, belting it out with a powerful gusto.
There was time for a encore and he cheekily teased those of us FM fans present with the opening chords to ‘That Girl’ but instead a lively cover of Robert Johnson’s ‘Walking Blues’ fitted the theme of the evening rather better.
After the year we have had, any gig would have been great- that this one was so accomplished and entertaining was merely the icing on the cake of a memorable evening.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 12 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 14 September 2021.
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Featured Albums w/c 6 September 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 HEARTLAND Into The Future (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 VEGA Anarchy And Unity (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 JACKSON BROWNE Downhill From Everywhere (indie)
Power Plays w/c 20 September 2021 (Mon-Fri)
BAD TOUCH Twenty Five Miles (Marshall)
THE HUMAN VEIL Enemies (indie)
DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY Now’s The Time (Golden Robot Records)
VANSLEEP Oceans (indie)
TRUE NORTH Save Me (Out Of Line Music)
SORROW & THE SPIRE In The City Tonight (Golden Robot Records)
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