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Mean Fiddler, Charing Cross Road, 20th July 2007
Main image by A.
Liza. Review and other pics by Julien Joyce
the world’s best living blues harmonica player? That’s a
question that kicks off an inconclusive debate among the fans. But in
the meantime Kim Wilson must rank high in everyone’s list, just
from his “how the **** does he DO that” style. At one point
during his gig at London’s Mean Fiddler on Friday, Wilson was playing
a bass AND a melody line simultaneously – and the only way to do
that is to blow through both sides of the mouth at once. And as any aspiring
harp player will tell you – that’s depressingly difficult.
As ever, Wilson is the solid centre of the Fabulous Thunderbirds – a
band that’s been playing in once form or another (although always
with him at its heart) since the mid 1970s. His current (and very tight)
line-up includes the very impressive Kirk "Eli" Fletcher, whose
lead guitar solos on” “My Babe” and a couple of other
T-Bird standards inspired a forest of hands-in-the-air from an appreciative
audience. There’s solid support too from Nick Curran, whose rockabilly-style
rhythm guitar style is credited with helping to bring back the T-Bird
magic which some say was lost after long-time band member Jimmy Vaughan
left in 1990. Curran’s backing vocals also perfectly complemented
Wilson’s keening voice talents.
Thunderbirds played a pounding set, with the usual double dose of Kim
Wilson energy. “She's Tuff ” inspired a singalong amongst
those old enough to remember when it was first released. And the way
Wilson does that little laugh thing at the top of the song is still funny
after all these years. Certainly the band was laughing along too, and
so were we. We heard some older stuff -- My Babe of course -- plus
a judicious selection of newer material, especially a stomping version
of Postman from the band’s 2005 album Painted On.
But it was the harmonica playing that most of us were there for
and Wilson didn’t disappoint. There was a moment towards the end
of the evening when the band walked off one by one, leaving him to blow
a jaw-dropping solo that went on for over 10 minutes (I counted) accompanied
by the laconic Jay Moeller on drums. After a while he left too, leaving
Wilson alone in a pool of light and surrounded by a ring of sweat and
spit drops on the stage. And still he played on.
One a crowd-hopping encore of Crawl later and we were still ready to
rock, but the T-Birds have been playing long enough to know to leave
us wanting more. Fabulous, Fabulous Thunderbirds.
More of A. Liza's fantastic shots of the 'Birds here
>> Our review of their 2005 London gig here >>