I was expecting very little to be original about tonight, as the four of us met up at the Basement Bar. I thought we had already seen the acts on show and one of them was solely a covers band. However, it was another charity night, a rare chance to see an old favourite and, for me at least, a fast-becoming favourite. But there was to be a couple of surprises, the first of which was the opening act, which I hadn’t seen advertised anywhere let alone come across before.
Steve Kendra is another in the long line of local guys with guitars (and, in this case, a nifty hat). There was way too much talking going on as Steve took to the stage and I’m ashamed to say that some of it was from our little group, so it was a little difficult to hear his songs properly. But with songs about an older Elvis meeting a younger version of himself and about Kendra’s own Dad working at Terry’s chocolate factory, at least there was a touch of originality lyric-wise. the overriding impression, for some reason, was of a musical version of Ian McMillan (the Bard of Barnsley) and while, on past evidence, it may be unlikely that our paths cross again very soon, I wouldn’t be averse to seeing him play again, if only to get the opportunity to listen more closely and give a more informed review.
It’s only been a handful of weeks since I last saw Boss Caine, so I thought I knew what to expect, especially as an album is due imminently and songs from it had already been posted on his Facebook page. Tonight’s second surprise was that Mr Lucas wasn’t performing solo – not the firstime, just the first time that I had encountered it. Joined, at various times, by Andy Gaines, Paddy Berry, Dave Keegan and Chris Johnson, Boss Caine performed familiar songs in a slightly unfamiliar way. “Slightly” only because the album tracks posted to his page are the “full band” versions and so I had heard at least a version of them before, just not live.
The extra instruments give a fuller sound to the songs, without detracting from the Boss’s rich, deep voice. (A voice which, in all honesty, is better at singing the songs than introducing them – we struggled to hear what he was saying between songs although, again, that could have been partly due to the ambient noise level.) I don’t know whether all the songs performed were from the album, but I’m fairly sure that all of the four mentioned above were played, including Leaving Victoria, one of my favourites. My appetite for the album was whetted even more than before.
We used to see Hazzard County regularly at the White Swan. Then the landlord changed, the pub was done up and the Hazzards seemed to go their separate ways, getting together for much less infrequent gigs. Tonight was one of those events as Dave, Paddy, Simon, Chris and John headlined the gig which was set up to raise money for Shelter, the charity being supported by John’s wife as she runs the London Marathon. The music on offer as well as such a worthwhile charity (and the fact that I have very little chance of ever completing a marathon) made this £5 very well spent.
The Hazzards spent the evening playing the usual mix of songs by the likes of The Band, Dylan, Johnny Cash and more, including a fair few that I didn’t recognise from previous times we had seen them. Throughout the evening, every swapped and changed instruments numerous times, with four of the band changing between various guitars, drums and tambourine, while Paddy swapped between bass and double-bass and Chris sometimes adding keyboards (I don’t remember ever seeing keyboards at a Hazzards gig before) and everybody except Paddy taking at turn at lead and backing vocals.
The songs were lively, as was the audience, many of whom were at least semi-regulars at the Swan (and at least two regulars failed to get in to what was a very crowded and very warm Basement). The music was up to the band’s usual high standards and they all appeared to enjoy playing together again. Sadly, from one posting I have seen, this is likely to be their only gig of the year and, shortly after the house lights were flickered (presumably to indicate time to stop playing) and ignored, I had to leave. I understand that the music continued until after midnight and I would expect it finished with something special and, probably, even more lively. Part of me wishes that tonight’s gig took place later in the year, when I wouldn’t be relying on public transport to get me home.
I don’t know whether a final total was announced but I understand that, through entry money and bucket collections, over £600 had been raised by 9pm. Well done to all and good luck to Jayne for the marathon.