Savoy Brown + Matt Pearce & The Mutiny
Tuesday 14th January 2020
The Beaverwood, Chislehurst
The New Year heralds some old time Blues down at the local venue tonight. Assuming storm whatevertheycallit doesn’t end civilisation as we know it first. But whilst the weather outside is frightful, the music inside is delightful, let it flow, let it flow, let it flow. Snuggled into the small cricket pavilion building are a hundred or so music stalwarts ready to brave whatever is thrown at them.
The small stage at one end of the building hosts the solo project of the London-based, Glasgow-born, guitarist Matt Pearce - an original member of the successful Hard Rock outfit Voodoo Six. Matt Pearce & The Mutiny are a 4 piece with Matt fronting in his black three piece suit, hat and battered Les Paul gold top. Playing through Orange amps the Blues hues have that rocky edge. Although the tracks on the new debut album draw from the full range of Matt Pearce’s influences and passions: Rock, Blues, Funk and Soul! “These songs have almost written themselves”, Matt confesses, “They are songs that have become very personal to me: As if my inner voice has suddenly become much stronger. It wasn’t as if I stumbled upon these songs by accident: on the contrary, they tracked me down. I can’t stress how uncanny the experience has been.” Still a member of the Voodoo Six, this is Matt’s chance to break away and find his Bluesier, groovier side.
The short set sees Matt play some serious Gary Moore like Blues on his trusty Gibson with keys bass and drums providing the rhythm and melody. And his Scottish lilt is evident in his strong vocals. Interlaced with judicious wah, the screaming Blues guitar is excellent. For 'Ordinary Blues' he swaps the Gold Top for an Ibanez hollowbody which gives a twangier lilt to his Cry Baby’s sobbing. Title track of the new album 'Gotta Get Home' is a slide and fingerpicking sensation that has Southern states Blues written all over it whilst new track 'Got A Thing Going On' allows Matt to show his rockier side back on the Gibson again. Closing track 'Set Me Free', played regularly on Planet Rock radio, morphs into Peter Green’s 'Oh Well', although with considerably more Funk. A tasty end to a delightful first course. Gotta Get Home? Not quite yet, we have main course to come.
In the event that the world was to witness a holocaust tonight, one surefire survivor will be tonight’s headline act Savoy Brown. Frontman Kim Simmonds formed the band in 1965 and is still rocking 55 years on. Now that’s what you call a survivor. And in that time over 60 different musicians have joined him on his journey. Although tonight he is accompanied by just two others - Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on drums, both of whom have been with the band for over 10 years. But mere striplings compared to Kim.
Kim leads the band with his trusty Gibson 335 and Fender DeVille amp. Over his playing career he has played Teles Les Pauls, SG’s and Flying V’s but the hollowbody suits tonight’s Bluesier show. Held vertically in the wrinkled septuagenarians firm grasp, white locks flowing, the growl of the humbuckers match the growl of Kim’s voice. The pleasing growl of a seasoned vocalist. Opening track 'Guitar Slinger', from his 2017 album 'Witchy Feelin’ is a template for things to come - up tempo Blues guitar slinging. Whilst not flash, Kim certainly knows his licks and can still make the fretboard smoke when he wants to.
After regaling us with memories of local haunts that he used to play - memories of 1968 Chislehurst caves and the now sadly defunct Black Prince pub – he launches into an oldie – 'Train To Nowhere' allowing that 335 to really twang whilst 'Why Did You Hoo Doo Me' is an altogether dirtier Blues track taken again from the 'Witchy Feelin’ album. As is 'Livin’ On the Bayou', a slow Creole minimalist Blues track about the Louisiana swamp lands. It has a catchy slow riff which morphs into slow heavy Blues and an almost Jazz like solo. After a cover of Howling Wolf’s 'I Ain't Superstitious', we get some material from the new album 'City Night'. It’ not so much a gig as a history lesson. 'Walkin’ On Hot Stones' is an almost sleazy Rock track with a beat reminiscent of Bowie’s 'Jean Jeanie'. And some great slide too.
'I’m Tired' is a lighter hearted Kinks style track, written back in 1968 by Chris Youldon. It’s a twangy Rock guitar groover. Very '68. Psychedelic. No wonder - it has similarities to Shocking Blue’s 'Venus'. Kim now leaves the stage to allow some drum and bass (literally, not the genre) with Pat and Grimm both getting a chance to display their considerable solo skills. But Kim soon returns to launch into the slow intro to 'Slow Blues' - just Kim – incorporating all the various tones and sounds he can pull from the Gibsons pickups. As the song blossoms Kim picks up the harmonica for some delicate Blues which has the whole audience hushed. Delightful stuff. “Let’s do a boogie!” cries Kim before launching into the boogielicious 'Cobra'. We are back to toe tapping goodness and there’s even a further drum solo from Grimm. Which segways nicely into closing track 'Hellbound Train' with it’s simple metronomic beat that had me away on the footplate of a train going nowhere. The slow Blues built to a fine crescendo with the wha pedal mimicking the howling whistle. Rocking stuff.
After a brief sojourn the trio are back for a short but mighty encore with the eponymous Sayoy Brown 'Boogie' with a large dollop of 'Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On' thrown in for good measure. Rockin' Blues is alive and kicking and only 50 odd years in the making. And they said it would never last.
As we head back out into the night, I am relieved to see the world is still there despite the weather’s best efforts. But then it could have ended as I was far too absorbed in the music to have noticed otherwise. It was a fine night of classic Blues and Blues Rock. This is what the Rock music of today grew from, the ration book generation of Rock and Roll that rode that 'Hellbound Train'. Is it end of the world stuff? Well ‘Armageddin it’…
Savoy Brown setlist:
Train To Nowhere
Why Did You Hoo Doo Me
Livin’ On The Bayou
I Ain’t Superstitious
Walkin’ On Hot Stones
Savoy Brown Boogie/Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On