Gig review: MICHAEL KATON – Beaverwood Club,Chislehurst,Kent,13 June 2013

‘Boogie All Over Your Head’ the title of Michael Katon’s debut album says it all really. Rockaboogie takes on a whole different meaning in the company of the MKB. It seems years since the Detroit boogie legend last visited these shores – after checking I realised it is actually five years – and national UKtour dates remain all too infrequent. So it is a real pleasure to report that Katon has lost none of his big Marshall tone, or his instinct for greased up biker boogie as he searches out the essence of what he once so famously called: ‘rock ‘n roll, whiskey, blood ‘n’guts’.

He dipped into his 14 album and 150 song back catalogue to pull out what can only loosely be called a set list. He took us to the slide led ‘Roadhouse 69’, explored the sublime riff of ‘Low Rider’ and invited us to ‘Come On Back To Hell’ as the second part of a segue that linked back to the exclamatory ‘Yeah… But We Can Boogie’.  He also added some ‘Barbeque On My Boogie’ as part of a stonking set of punishing volume, hard driven riffs and plenty of good humour.

A Katon gig is a flash back in time to when revved up rock and biker boogie was hot news. With his impossible mane of long hair, leather jacket and designer shades, he looks just like a character who has stepped out of the kind of roadhouse whisky soaked narratives that he so evocatively sings about.

Of course for most of us this imagery is the very thing that drew us to rock and roll in the first place, but Katon’s redeeming feature is the twinkle in his eye when he delivers his double-entendre’s and familiar metaphors. He dedicated ‘Lucky Lucky Lucky’ to all divorcees – mainly for men, but he added: ‘maybe for some women too’ – and plucked ‘Tight White Pants’ from his ‘Proud To Be Loud’ album. He confided that it was his wife’s closely hugging apparel that led him to the alter.

The Beaverwood crowd lapped up the stories, the rip snorting boogie, scorching licks and occasional Magic Sam and Freddie king influences. He was at his bluesy best on the magnificent ‘Two Angels Flying’ and moved away from the mic to sing unaccompanied on  ‘Catfish Blues’, wracking up the tension with fast repeated notes, some whammy bar mangling and an enveloping drone.

There were tales of the devil (‘Diablo Boogie’), whisky songs aplenty and the super charged riffing of ‘Red Moon Rising’. He may not have any new product available at present and most of his back catalogue seems to have been relegated to downloads, but there’s still a real potency to his anthemic set closer ‘Get On the Boogie Train’

And it’s that mesmerising mix of high octane boogie, peppered with exclamatory profanities, biker jive talk and some pedal to the metal songs that we’ve all missed. Quite simply, when his power trio kicks into overdrive there are very few unreconstructed rockers that are his equal.

A brief mention too for special guests the Dave Jackson Band, who jammed selections from their new limited edition live album. The power trio generated an impressive blues drone, shot through with Jan Jackson’s ripping bass lines, Dave’s ascending solos and shaped by drummer Reg Patten who was reminiscent of Mitch Mitchell in his pomp.

Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Mark Hughes

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