Dr Feelgood

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Review Date November 3, 2011

Review By David Knowles

Location The Maltings, Ely

Legendary British r&b band paid a welcome visit to my home town, a gig I just could not miss. I have been a big fan of Dr Feelgood since 1976 when my brother bought me the album STUPIDITY for my 15th birthday and then took me to see them at the Kursaal in Southend. I have been to a great many concerts and gigs over the years, far too many to try and count, plus have seen some of the biggest acts including Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd at Knebworth, the Who and SAHB at Charlton Football Ground, Queen in Hyde Park, plus Pink Floyd, Genesis, Highwaymen, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, the Eagles … the list is extensive, but that gig in Southend still rates as one of the best and is one of my greatest and most treasured memories. Unfortunately none of the original members are still in the band now but the current line-up are still serving up a great dose of r&b for all who need some musical medication from the good Doctor! A slightly disappointing turn-out but those of us who braved the rain were treated to a terrific show. Support act was a group called Absolution who only formed in May 2010, but this power rock trio blasted their name into everyone’s heads. With the pounding drums of Doug Lang alongside the solid bass guitar of Ben Gardner this proved a mighty solid rhythm sound to accompany the fine vocals and scything guitar of Joe Fawcett. Playing a mix of songs from their album ISSUES alongside very good covers, this band are definitely worth looking up. Joe only took up the guitar in 2004 yet is far better than a lot of the lead guitarists in many of the newer commercial styled pop/rock bands. His guitar solos were effortless and he always seemed in absolute control. They finished their set with fantastic covers of two classics; Johnny B Goode and Hey Joe. After a short interval Dr Feelgood stormed the stage, going straight for the jugular with old favourites like I Can Tell, the phenomenal bass guitar-driven Roxette and their biggest selling single Milk And Alcohol. I have to be completely honest in that I miss seeing the awesome Lee Brilleaux powering out the vocals on these songs (Lee sadly passed away in 1994) but I also cannot take anything away from the dynamite singer Robert Kane who is probably the only person who could possibly have taken over the role left by the great man. His vocals are tremendous and he commands the stage excellently, in fact he has more stage presence, personality and vocal prowess in his little finger than many of these young wannabes that grace the charts have in their whole bodies. Kane darts about the stage like a man on a mission whilst delivering aggressively powerful vocals interspersed with mighty harmonica playing. Dr Feelgood have always had one of the best rhythm sections in the business and Kevin Morris (drums) and Phil Mitchell (bass guitar) carry that tradition on … brilliant! Last but by no means least, is the scintillating guitar work of Steve Walwyn who played awesome guitar throughout as well as some exceptional slide on an old blues number on which he also took on lead vocals. It was then back to the old again with the classic Back In The Night which has been a favourite at Dr Feelgood gigs for over thirty years. These guys have now been playing together for quite a few years, with Kevin and Phil joining in 1983, Steve in 1989, making Robert the new boy as he joined twelve years ago and has since played over 1,000 shows. A song that they have made a signature tune for the band is Down By The Jetty Blues on which Kane again gives a full throttle vocal as well as playing some wicked blues harp, but it is also a platform to showcase the talent of Walwyn on lead guitar, as the other three leave the stage Steve remains to play an extended guitar solo to the delight of the crowd. The harmonica of Kane is forefront again on the excellent Going Back Home, before closing the set with Down At The Doctors and some tremendous rock”n’roll on Gimme One More Shot. The crowd may have been small but they were still very vocal and the band were quickly called back for an encore, on which they kept the rock”n’roll feel going with a supersonic version of (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 before bringing this super evening to a close with the fun medley Bonie Moronie/Tequila. This was a hugely entertaining evening with Absolution being a group to watch out for and Dr Feelgood keeping the British r&b flag flying high, they are still one of the best on the circuit and I hope that these guys will carry on for many more years to come … long live Dr Feelgood.

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