Review Date May 6, 2015

Review By Nick Dalton

Location What’s Cookin’, Leytonstone

The sad, reflective lyrics of (They Used To Say) Train Time hark back through the years and this show reflects the glory days of roots and county in the capital when, 30-odd years ago you could pop out to the pub and see the likes of Guy Clark, Butch Hancock, even Dwight Yoakam. And, above all, Wes. This comeback gig after years of ill health is an eye-opener, the Brit guitarist, singer and songwriter showing to both those in the know as well as a new generation just why he’s long been part of the musical cognoscenti in Texas. Everything that this cool venue (including dazzling Swedish, finger-picking support act Benjamin Folke Thomas) stands for is summed up in the country and borderlands music, effortlessly breathtaking guitar work, aided by a coterie of top musicians. There’s sax player Al Stewart, Simon Webb on keyboards and bassist John Gordon, all part of the original band (and now working with hitmaker and actor Mike Berry as Rumpus) and Patti Vetta, another original on percussion and vocals. The only new boy is Howard Tibble, veteran of the original Hank Wangford Band and who’s played with the liked of Phil Everly. He’s on a kit so small that it takes one back to Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers. It reflects the new-found subtlety of what used to be a wild party. Amongst the potted plants, lamps and chilli lights on the tiny stage they weave through eye-wateringly beautiful songs and music – How Do We Get There From Here, Devil From Del Rio, Whiskey Is My Driver, all featured on his new 3-CD anthology BORDERS. It’s not simply old stuff; he’s working on a new album and the lilting, flamenco-led Blue Cajun Angel and Spanish jazz of Cocktail Conversations fit seamlessly into an awesome canon of material. And then, of course, there’s Monterrey, a majestic, Spanish guitar-picked epic. If the music leaves you misty-eyed, the venue does too; a pint of cider and glass of wine for £5.95. Those really were the days…

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