Well, I both got in and stayed at this one, a first of 3 recent events, these troupers really showing how it can be done. Tribute band, Retro? Well, sort of, except this time they are all pros in their own right, old pros at that, being Steve Gibbons, the Steve Gibbons, the THM* of yore, still world famous in Brum, Dave Pegg and Gerry Conway from Fairport, PJ Wright, erstwhile Gibbons sidesman, latterly lead of Little Johnny England and Trad Arr, and Phil Bond, still a Gibbons band regular. Bloody hell, these guys can play, with Gibbons the consummate Dylan copyist, being a full month younger than Bob, 76, having been chucking in Dylan songs since forever, or 1980, when I first caught him, the difference being he references Dylan before his voice went to shit. And, no mere memorex of performances past, with updates, restyles and reinterprets aplenty, but in a way where you can actually recognise the song, if not the arrangement. No easy retread of the greatest hits, either, these were often, at least in the first half, deeper cuts from less well-celebrated moments. Hell, barely a song from Blonde on Blonde and a long wait to the encore from one from Blood on the Tracks. Lots or John Wesley Harding and a fair few from the more recent offerings, by which I mean Empire Burlesque onward. Nothing from the Christmas album or the Sinatra years, I am sorry/pleased to say, although a hint of Hark the Herald Angels did appear, on mouth-harp, in a stand-out performance of Dark Eyes, Gibbons with just electric piano accompaniment and, toward the end, choral massed vocal. I have seen the Project perhaps 5 or 6 times over the 20 odd years of their existence, always staggered by the failure to play on auto-pilot, the sets changing from tour to tour and, seemingly show to show: setlist.com failed to help me recall at all what was played this night as the shows represented were so markedly different, night to night. Tonight being the end of tour, I felt we got a greater shout than elsewhere. Highlights, apart from Gibbon’s natty suit, a wonder of checked tweed, his transition from leather-clad rocker to Doc Holliday style cowboy dude, to uber-cool back combed crooner, an albino John Cooper Clark in shades, a hand-painted tie and a broad grin, were many. Senor was one of many led by Bond’s mariachi style accordion, a wondrous rollicking Only a Hobo, a sepuchral and gothic Man in a Long White Coat, PJ’s guitar sharding out spectral shimmers. Amongst the more obvious were a fairly straight I Want You and a scarily jazz-blues lounge Mr Jones. Over 2 sets we got 2 hours worth, ahead of a show stopping Wilbury’s Handle Me With Care. No room to leave stage they weren’t allowed to leave until Simple Twist of Fate and “a request from Mr Presley”, with a Blue Christams being offered to one and all. And I haven’t even mentioned Dave Pegg’s bass playing, as melodic and inventive as I ever have seen or heard him, and that is no few times. Terrific show, a room full of grins all round.
*THM? Shame on you, the Tulane hitmaker!
Fucking ancient. Sorry, but, OK, perhaps age-appropriate to the act and the material, but couldn’t they at least make a little more effort to remain as Forever Young, not played, as the performers…
It made me think..
This is the future for baby-boomers, the elderly rocking along to elderly rockers. How long can this remain credible? Give it a few, please.