Sunday, November 27, 2016

'Snakehouse', with Bernie Marsden and Safehouse - Stramash, Edinburgh, 24 November 2016

And now for something unique, folks.  It’s Snakehouse – a notion born of a chance conversation at the Edinburgh Blues’N’Rock Festival back in July, when Bernie Marsden agreed that yeah, he quite fancied the idea of doing a show with local band Safehouse, playing a heap of classics by the Allman Brothers, Whitesnake and others.  And why not?
And so here we are in Stramash, with Safehouse opening proceedings with Moby Grape’s ‘Hey Grandma’.  Now, who the hell remembers Moby Grape?  I certainly don’t, though the name seems vaguely familiar.  But I gotta say, you’ll remember this full throated stomper the way that Safehouse deliver it, especially for Chris Peebles’ raunchy vocal.  Peebles comes across as a throwback to somewhere in 70s American, all flailing hair as he gets his rocks
Liz Jones gives an extra dimension to Snakehouse
off to the music, underlining the vibe of Southern rock that’s the Safehouse speciality.
They keep up the good work via a great guitar solo by John Bruce on Big George Watt’s ‘Take A Walk In The Wilderness’, and driving boogie with swirling keys on ‘Can’t You See’, until eventually it’s time for Bernie Marsden to enter the fray.  He demonstrates his subtlety right away with the responsiveness to the vocals of his little fills on ‘Double Trouble’, underlined by the lovely Peter Green feel of his interplay with Bruce after his solo.
There are highlights aplenty as Gary Davidson joins them to provide a twin attach with Sean Scott on drums for the Allman Brothers stuff.  This is serious guitar territory of course, and Bruce and Marsden duet to great effect on an instrumental, before Marsden produces a rollicking solo on ‘Black Hearted Woman’.  Not to be outdone, as they all get tied tight to the ‘Whipping Post’, Bruce lets go with a rip-roaring solo that demonstrates the sheer physicality of his playing.  They close this
Bernie gets down to business
portion of the show with ‘One Way Out’, on which they’re joined by Edinburgh harp supremo Gary Martin, and which frankly achieves an insane intensity from Marsden’s solo onwards.
They come back onstage with a smokin’ version of ‘Hush’, on which Bruce shows his mettle once again on his closing solo, before getting funky with Little Feat’s ‘Spanish Moon’.  Tackling ‘Trouble’ with Chris Peebles on vocals prompts the thought, “David Coverdale, oo’s ‘e then?” before Marsden takes centre stage for a rendition of Robert Johnson’s ‘Ramblin’ On My Mind’, which features some nice interplay with Ali Petrie on keyboards, before Bernie gets down to some serious business in the guitar stakes.  And just to underline his Premier League status, he then demonstrates some exquisite tone on Skynyrd’s ‘Simple Man’.
There’s then another shift in tone as guest vocalist Liz Jones joins the band to deliver top drawer vocals on The Animals’ ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s ‘Ain’t No Love (In The Heart Of The City)’, reinstating some verses that Whitesnake forgot (ie, Bernie forgot when he taught it to them).  And full credit to Liz, she puts some wannabe professionals to shame.
They wind up proceedings with ‘La Grange’, with two drummers on the go again alongside bassist Andy  Stirling, and serving up as meaty a delivery of the riff as Billy Gibbons could hope for.  Encoring with Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’ naturally leads to some mass choir practice for the crowd – though personally I’ll always prefer ‘Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues’.

It’s the end of a wild night of music, a celebration of its simple pleasures, and a night to remember for the Safehouse guys.  Call it blues, call it rock, call it what you like – this is what it’s all about.

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