Don’t you just love it when a gig really comes together, and you find yourself having a damn good time?
In a recent interview Stevie Nimmo observed that he no longer gave a shit about conforming with any music industry expectations. And why the hell should he, when he and his band deliver performances like this?
Towards the end of this set they give an outing to ‘The Storm’, a song by the late Glasgow
legend Big George Watt, and Nimmo shows just
what he’s made of on guitar. There’s a
mountainous, howling solo early on, but then there are subtle shifts in mood
before he delivers another stunning solo, shimmering and then piercing, and it
feels like he takes it all the way to the moon before bringing it back.
|Stevie Nimmo - walking on the moon|
And that’s just one highlight among many tonight. On the Allman Brothers song, ‘Gambler’s Roll’, which to be honest I found one of the less interesting moments on his new album Sky Won’t Fall, Nimmo demonstrates that he’s on top form vocally too. More than that, the contributions of Mat Beable on bass and Craig Bacon on drums show that the Stevie Nimmo Trio are more than just a group, they’re a team.
It was like this from the kick-off, with the urgent ‘Roll The Dice Again’, and then the gutsy, fuck-off-defiant ‘Still Hungry’, which features great bass from Beable.
‘Running On Back To You’ – “as bluesy as I get nowadays”, says Nimmo – is based on a delightful guitar lick with a teasing final upstroke, and is delivered with real feeling. Meanwhile on ‘Change’ they fall into an effortless groove, swinging with ease – you can easily imagine some female backing vocals adding to its vibe.
On a cover of Storyville’s ‘Good Day For The Blues’ they demonstrate that they can also do a more laid back, Southern feel, but with set closer ‘Lovin’ Might Do Us Good’ they really hit the bullseye. It’s a Bacardi Breezer of a song - light and funky and succeeding in getting a good few asses shook.
|Ben Poole - finger picking good|
They come back on with co-headliner Ben Poole, and the estimable Steve Watts on keys, to shake the foundations with a fearsome rendition of Jeff Beck’s ‘Going Down’, and Nimmo and Poole have great fun cranking out the riff while Watts showcases on organ.
It’s a great ending to the night, and one that gives Poole another share of the spotlight after his satisfying set earlier in the evening. The sexy ‘Let’s Go Upstairs’ is a strong opener, and Poole’s qualities are underlined on ‘Love Nobody No More’, a strong piece of songwriting done justice by his quavery, soulful vocal, finger-picking guitar, and nice harmonies. Accompanied by the B&B rhythm section of Beable and Bacon, and with Watts on keyboards, the playing is rock solid.
‘Longing For A Woman’, with its ‘Norwegian Wood’-like descending bass line, is the inspiration for a fierce Telecaster solo, laden with tension. In contrast ‘Lying To Me’ is chunky and funky, with Bradley Wiggins lookalike Watts coming over all Stax-like, and a syncopated feel to the middle section.
|Poole and Nimmo take it to the limit|
But if these songs demonstrate Poole’s potential, there are times when he could do with some more discipline. He opens the Freddie King classic ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’ with an overlong solo guitar and vocal intro, which is a pity, because once the band kick in things get back on course. Beable and Bacon are rock steady, Poole finds a pleasingly pinging, twanging guitar tone to complement his husky vocals, and Watts’ organ gives the whole thing balance.
He’s at it again on the Gary Moore-inspired ‘Time Might Never Come’. The song has a yearning chorus and a neat resolving guitar chord to the riff, but the whole is somehow less than the sum of its parts. Poole gets into a gutsy solo, full of deep and rich tones, but takes far too long to get to the heart of it, and then lapses into a spell of vacuous shredding before getting back on track.
No matter. The Brighton boy has the bones of a great, soulful sound, and he can write a good song. He reminds me of Aynsley Lister, but has yet to acquire Lister’s poise and balance. Touring with Stevie Nimmo will hopefully be an effective learning experience for him.