Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Nimmo Brothers - Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, 1 October 2015

The Nimmo Brothers are big.  Big guys. Big riffs.  Big hooks. Big solos.  Big stupid Cheshire cat grins.  Get the picture?  They don’t do things by halves, these boys. This is their twentieth anniversary tour, and before a note is played Alan Nimmo is shouting to the audience “Let’s have a ball!”  Which all and sundry duly do.
"Let's have a ball!"
‘Bad Luck’ is a big opener, only to be surpassed by ‘Shape I’m In’, which melds a Thunder-ish quality with some heads down, no nonsense boogie-ish riffing worthy of Parfitt andRossi. ‘Long Way From Everything’ down shifts to begin with, with a cool guitar intro and soulful vocals from Stevie Nimmo, before letting rip with a blistering solo from brother Alan that you can just lose yourself in, with Wayne Proctor’s drumming underpinning its intense trajectory.  They could have packed in and gone home then, three songs in, and the crowd would probably still have felt they got their money’s worth.
The Nimmos are masters of dynamics, as demonstrated on ‘All I Want’, which announces itself as a slow blues, with solos from both brothers that start off restrained before exploding, but are always expressive.  This is also a band that is not so much tight as synchro-meshed, as illustrated by the pounding ‘Nothing In Chicago For Free’, with its rock steady beat.  ‘Reason To Believe’, meanwhile, shows off Stevie Nimmo’s slide skills and their ability to punctuate a song with occasional twists in order to keep it interesting.
"Careful with that axe, bro!"
Both Alan and Stevie Nimmo are great singers, and each will have their champions.  Stevie has power and guts in spades, while Alan has more warmth and depth to his voice.  But in all honesty this is a no holds barred guitar extravaganza, with the brothers jamming to their hearts’ content on ‘Waiting For My Heart To Fall’, which also features a neat accelerating segment led by Alan.
Bassist Matt Beable steps out front to kick off the set-closing ‘Black Cat Bone’, a mighty slab of wailing funk-rock’n’blues featuring call and response guitar, some balls-out rocking, and even party tricks of a lead guitar meets Twister variety.  In this, as in everything else, the Nimmo Brothers attack everything they do – every damn thing – with more relish than you’d find in a Chicago dog.
They scarcely get off the stage before they’re back for an encore, resurrecting the Whitesnake take on ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’.  Inevitably it sparks a singalong from the sell-out crowd. Plenty of love in evidence for the Nimmo Brothers though, as they celebrate their twenty years prior to an extended sabbatical.
Warming up for headliners like that may seem daunting, but Hot Tin Roof make a decent fist of it with their line-up of electric guitar, acoustic guitar and box.  Their set of covers and originals doesn’t quite have the muscle to keep the audience’s attention throughout, but they have some good moments along the way. The staccato ‘Little Boy Soldier’ features a nice solo in a Peter Green vein from guitarist Gavin Jack. ‘Mr Businessman’ works its way interestingly around a guitar line resembling a slowed down, toned down take on the riff from ‘Whole Lotta Love’.  J.J. Cale’s ‘Magnolia’ features some subtle guitar, and an appealingly cracked vocal from Andy McKay-Challen.  But best of all is ‘Have You Ever’, with its pleasing guitar intro and offbeat chords, and a 60s West Coast vibe played out over a cantering rhythm from Kenny Miller on box.

But hey, are support bands all contractually obliged to play John Lee Hooker’s ‘Boom Boom’ these days?  This was the third rendition I’ve heard in the last month.  Never mind, I’ll forgive them since they closed with a decent reading of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Pride And Joy’.

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