Thursday, July 2, 2015

Gecko rock in St Leonard's Hastings

Hastings and St Leonard's in East Sussex have a thriving music scene, and that's due in part to events like last night's Hastings Friendship Group gig. Held at Gecko’s, St Leonard’s in aid of Cancer Research, this was the latest in a series of charitable showcases for local acts.

Gecko’s Bar and Bistro is a regular venue for HFG events. It’s a nice place, seafront-facing and spacious. The beer is a bit pricey by St Leonard’s standards, but the food menu looked competitive. Full marks to Gecko’s for providing a platform for local musical and artistic talent (Paintings fill the main wall).

Tom Cole kicked the night off with a few nods to the Canada Day theme that Trevor Webb, the principal HFG organiser, was encouraging. His sensitive vocal and guitar style is well-suited to Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ and Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Early Mornin’ Rain’ and ‘Steel Rail Blues’. His own tunes, including ‘Ramblin’ Man’, are pretty good too. However when Tom re-interprets the old gospel and blues standard ‘In My Time of Dyin’ his performance is lifted to another level. If the makers of True Detective were putting that broodingly atmospheric, deep south, swampy TV drama series together now, they could easily include Tom on the soundtrack. His version of ‘In My Time of Dyin’ would sit proudly alongside the contributions of the Handsome Family et al.


Tom was followed by Eddy Odel. As it was privately observed on the night, “Eddy is good and he knows it.” He did exquisite versions of Hank Williams’ ‘Lovesick Blues’ and other vintage country and folk blues numbers. Eddy’s version of ‘Mr Bojangles’ brought tears to my eyes.


Wendy White and Nelson King are The Goo Goos, named presumably after the one-time American candy bar rather than “good government guys”. I’m told that Wendy has sung with Stone the Crows. She doesn’t look old enough to have performed with the legendary 1970s act. Maybe she gets mixed up with the (much older) Stone the Crows’ lead singer Maggie Bell who is still touring. Wendy has a similarly earthy, almost ballsy, white blues voice. That, and her and Nelson’s fast and furious electric mandolin playing, were used to great effect on a cover of the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want'. 


However we went from the sublime to the ridiculous when, being reminded of the loose Canada Day theme to the night’s proceedings, the duo covered Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of 69’. Don’t get me wrong, The Goo Goos did it very well. However ‘Summer of ‘69’ is one of the most appallingly bad songs ever written. It carries as much conviction and emotional substance as a Lynx deodorant ad. Mr Adams has always been a highly antiseptic performer anyway, representing everything that rock n’ roll should not be about. Despite that musical low, The Goo Goos were undoubtedly in fine form on the night. Their reinterpretation of the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ rocked, and Wendy’s vocals on ‘Whole Lotta Love’ were impressive. 

Guitarists Peter Williams and Steve Avery had only played a couple of numbers when I had to leave. I’ve heard Pete and Paul Crimin (who played later) on one other occasion and like their vocal and guitar styles. From what I heard last night, Pete and Steve complimented each other nicely. Mike Guy was also scheduled to appear. Perhaps there was a further nod to other great Canadian songsmiths. After all, four-fifths of The Band were Canadian, and there is always Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and…. Justin Bieber.

I look forward to the other HFG gigs lined up throughout July and August. 

3 comments:

Peter Sadler said...

Very informative, as ever, Neil. Seems you had a really enjoyable evening. I know most of the songs mentioned but none of the performers. I'm particularly fond of 'In my time of dyin'' having first heard it by Bob Dylan (1962?). There are songs which stay relevant and emotionally charged like that and Mr Bojangles. The latter, open to many styles, gets me every time whether it's by Sammy Davis Jnr or Nina Simone (check it out on You Tube). There really is a wealth of talent out of the public spotlight, isn't there?
I am intrigued though why you had to leave early - feed the dog? Last train to the wilderness? Or as in the great days of The News of the World, did you, as a good reporter, make your excuses and leave? Keep up the good work.

Peter Sadler said...

Very informative, as ever, Neil. Seems you had a really enjoyable evening. I know most of the songs mentioned but none of the performers. I'm particularly fond of 'In my time of dyin'' having first heard it by Bob Dylan (1962?). There are songs which stay relevant and emotionally charged like that and Mr Bojangles. The latter, open to many styles, gets me every time whether it's by Sammy Davis Jnr or Nina Simone (check it out on You Tube). There really is a wealth of talent out of the public spotlight, isn't there?
I am intrigued though why you had to leave early - feed the dog? Last train to the wilderness? Or as in the great days of The News of the World, did you, as a good reporter, make your excuses and leave? Keep up the good work.

Neil Partrick said...

Many thanks Pete... couldn't agree more re Mr Bojangles. Sammy's the one for me but have heard Nina's and will listen again...Bob does a great version on the album entitled "Dylan" (c 1971)...yeah leaving early...a sore point with myself really as it was the penultimate train I was heading for...think I was worried about too much beer (!) and dealing with Fido.....