7/11/2013 Norman Watt-Roy & Friends Review by Liz Aiken

Sell-out gig with nervous anticipation around The Flowerpot started the evening off with a buzz even before the doors to the stage area were opened.

Opening for a gig when there is so much excitement is always difficult and ‘Mojosa‘ entertained us royally. This duo of Pauls delivered an acoustic set of classic blues numbers with the duo using their resonators to full effect and the competing slides worked with the two sounds meshing together to create a pleasing sound. A warm-up act that entertained with a set of great blues rocks classics including ‘Brownsville Blues‘.

Now for the main event Norman Watt-Roy the incredibly talented and imaginative bass player who has been the preferred session player for many including providing the original bass line for Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s hit single, ‘Relax‘, and who played with Ian Dury and The Blockheads. The atmosphere was electric as the first note was struck by Norman and the band began to play ‘ Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, the crowd was won over by this tribute to the great wordsmith Ian Dury. Norman was joined tonight by keys, saxophone/accordion and drums meaning this was a trio without a lead guitarist! But the sound produced was complete as the best bass player of the era fronted the band and filled in the gaps. The beat was kept up tempo with ‘Billericay Dickie‘; then the tempo genre style changed with some jazz-funky grooves as the set became definitely more jazz than blues or rock and this definitely made an appreciative audience sit up and listen. This was a perfect venue to showcase tracks from his new album Faith & Grace on Cadiz Label with an attentive audience that listened and absorbed this new Norman Watt-Roy style. The jazz influenced lead breaks made sure that every track was clearly stamped with the Norman watt-Roy signature of full bodied bass playing demonstrated throughout but stood out on ‘You are what You Are’ and ‘Me My Bass & I‘.

Then the moment everyone had been waiting for – the entrance of Wilko Johnson onto the stage, the cheers were resounding and immediately the tempo and temperature was raised; and the crowds moved forwards trying to catch a shot and glimpse of the machine-gun guitar slinger. He played three numbers straight off, it had been worth the wait, a barnstorming performance from a legend of the pub rock scene, with his style of guitar playing instantly recognisable. There was no need for Wilko to say a word his trademark black telecaster with red scratch-plate said everything that needed to be said. Then he left the sage and the band followed the roar was enough to take the roof off The Flowerpot; and then in a instant he was back at the mike for the encore he chose ‘Roxette’. This is the Wilko version similar but never the same as when Dr Feelgood played it as Lee Brilleaux’s moody, darkly sexy approach is missing; but who cares tonight was Wilko’s as the crowd couldn’t get enough of of Wilko! Every chord struck without a plectrum as he has played for the last forty years, every note he sung and every move he made. The show ended back at the beginning with Norman Watt-Roy and Friends returning to ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick‘.

The crowd was still buzzing long after the band had left the stage. Rawpromo had put on a a very special evening that was thoroughly appreciated by everyone, and no doubt there were a few disappointed people who couldn’t get a ticket. This is a popular promoter and venue so the moral is – get your ticket early…