Live at New Roscoe on Wednesday, 28th September 2005
First, a grumble. Tonight, there were three great acts on for a measly three quid, on a well though out bill, in a venue just outside the city centre, with probably the most consistently good sound in the city. Why then were there only about 30 people in the venue? By rights, even on a Wednesday night there should have been at least 150 people in the room. The New Roscoe is a fabulous venue and if we don't support it it will go the same way as the Duchess and the T & C.
Unfortunately, My Exploding Heart pulled out of the show due to illness. I'll have to see them another day. Good to see some of them came to the gig anyway.
Tom Rodwell was here though and played some really cool blues guitar and stomped on a wooden box for percussion. He did some original tunes and some standards. He's clearly influenced by John Lee Hooker and the like and has managed to bring some of 'The Hook's' spirit into his show. His modern equivalent would be somebody like Keb Mo. Nice to see what is basically an acoustic act (although he played an electric guitar) being attentively listened to and appreciated. My only minor criticism, for want of a better phrase, his voice is just a little too 'white' for blues stuff. I recommend a course of 80 cigarettes and a bottle of bourbon a day to whip it into shape. Quite apart from this - anyone who can list stomping foot as one of the instruments is alright with me!
A very fine start to the evening and in hindsight, probably a more fitting opening act in the context of the bill.
One thing you consistently notice about Cardboard Cowboy is the quality of their songwriting. Yes, they walk some fairly well trodden paths, but see one of their gigs and I can almost guarantee that for the next few days their songs will be fighting for air time on you internal radio. Tonight it's 'If It Don't Feel Like Rock n Roll' that really stands out. A chord sequence that echoes 'All The Young Dudes' is married with an aching, chiming verse. It's a lovely brew, which was finely mashed tonight. One of the highlights of the whole night.
In the past, my one issue with Cardboard Cowboy has been that singer Dave has a tendency to sing on the bottom side of the note but tonight he's right on the money, no doubt aided by the superb on-stage sound of The Roscoe and a large number of gigs.
The Double Bass comes out for a couple of tunes, 'Lady Brown' and 'I'm Not Sleeping', but for me doesn't quite work in a live environment. There are two reasons for this. The first and most difficult to combat is the amount of feedback it creates. The second is that tonight there were a few intonation problems. I wonder if it's really worth the hassle of taking a double bass to gigs or if the set would be just as well served by either a regular bass guitar or a fretless bass. The set would have flowed more smoothly certainly.
The set was made up of songs from their two albums and there is barely a weak spot in the whole set. Crowd favourite 'Boss Hogg' sits comfortably with the generally more mellow material from their second album. A wonderful band who will continue to get better. Built to last.
Howling Wolf is alive and well and living in Andy Weaver's vocal chords. That can be the only explanation for the force of nature that is Chicken Legs Weaver's frontman's voice. He somehow manages to combine grit, gravel and filth with an affecting more tender edge. Plus his slide guitar playing slashes and wails, while the rhythm section drive up a storm behind him. A potent force, all things told.
The way they approach 'da blooze' is totally authentic - this is not of the 'just add water' variety. Just check out their startling rendition of Jon The Revelator for evidence that blues music, even the earliest acoustic blues tunes, needn't be some archaic museum piece to be dusted off and treated with quiet reverence by Armarni wearing middle class boys from Surrey. It's a totally organic and evolving body, which can be twisted, beaten and mutated to suit an artist's ends. To play blues in the modern day you need to own and live it, not copy it. This is what Chicken Legs Weaver, driven by Andy Weaver's caustic, funny and dark tales of everyday life, manage to do so comprehensively.
Dedicated to 'our ex bass player' In The Ground was stunning, performed with a delicious venom. Now bass guitarist Jane has settled in and built an understanding with drummer Mik, they are once again a tight, lean and energised unit. Now where's that second album?