SIMO + Fred Abbott + The Second Echo
Thursday 7th April
The Barfly, Chalk Farm, London
The crutch lying next to JD Simo on the Barfly dressing room floor was a mighty shock as we learnt during our pre-gig interview that JD had a "Dave Grohl moment" when he dislocated his knee on stage on the first leg (no pun intended) of SIMO's European tour in Paris three days earlier. The stock question of "how's the tour going so far?" met on this occasion with an incredulous answer! Anyway, White Hot Nashville Blues trio SIMO returned to London following their critically acclaimed St. Moritz Club showcase gig plus their Walter Trout support at The Forum last November. Watch out for our full SIMO interview shortly but as usual with recent London gigs we have attended - their were two support bands.
First up were The Second Echo - a London based contemporary Rock 'n' Roll band with Joe Foster on vocals & guitar, Oliver Marks on lead guitar, James McKone on bass and Ben McKone on drums. Well if Joe Bonamassa can endorse SIMO then a ringing endorsement from BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe of their single 'Sugar Mama' can only help their CV can't it - as the guys proceeded to play a raucous concoction of Rock, Blues, Funk and Americana from their recently released self-titled debut album - the stand-out track for mine being the infectious 'Redeemer '. A great start to the evening got even better with the arrival of ex-Noah & The Whale guitarist and keyboard player Fred Abbott. Following the band's split he released his solo album 'Serious Poke' in July 2015. The Rock n' Roll album, which features fellow members of Noah And The Whale and other friends - was understandably heavily featured in Fred's set - the highlights being 'How Good It Feels' and 'Adrenaline Shot'. Suffice to say both support band albums were purchased during the evening - with SIMO still to come! Excellent!
Despite limping on to the stage, lead guitarist and vocalist JD soldiered on - sitting on a chair with bass guitarist Elad Bishop showing solidarity by also sitting on another chair on the other side of the stage with drummer Adam Abrashoff completing the trio in the middle. And if you wanted immediate proof that JD's impediment wouldn't restrict his performance - the Classic 70's Rock riff of opener 'Right Now' left you in doubt that they could still rock out despite said incapacitation! 'There and Gone' despite its brevity kept up the incredible pace with another catchy rocking riff before they launched into the first track from their new album 'Let Love Show The Way' namely 'Two Timin' Woman' giving JD the opportunity to move into overdrive with some cool slide guitar plus a neat drum outro from the outstanding Abrashoff. So far the setlist was pretty much on par with what we saw at the St. Moritz - The 'Big Country' style opening riff heralding 'Long May You Sail' - in my opinion an epic from 'LLSTW' - classically extended with a mid-section JD jam. However, a new inclusion on the night was 'Becky's Last Occupation' - also from 'LLSTW' -with yet another riff to die for - with both Adam and JD giving it all in their 'rockin' chairs'! Wow!
And talking of classic's - the initial pull of SIMO for me was the demo 'I'll Always Be Around' - JD's slide and Abrashoff's drumming intro enticing you in - before this standout track explodes into life. Cue another awesome JD guitar solo and you have a reason for buying 'LLSTW' on its own volition. The opener to 'LLSTW' - Elmore James' 'Stranger Blues' was a welcome addition to the set given it sets out the stall for what can you expect from 'LLSTW' with its 'Doorsy' 60's feel. The psychedelic feel of 'LLSTW' was kept up by doffing their caps to Hendrix with the storming 'I'd Rather Die In Vain' before - amazingly, for the first time in the set - they slowed things down with the cool Blues of 'What's On Your Mind' - from their 'Love Vol. 1' EP. Many would believe wrongly that it's a Blues standard and a cover - which in the past JD has performed before using Duanne Allman's Les Paul. They guys closed out their set with the same three songs from St. Moritz - but once again highlighted their versatility. The lengthy prog of 'Off at 11' again off of 'Love Vol. 1' including a great drum solo from Abrashoff, their incredible cover of 'With a Little Help From My Friends' - JD's vocals a fitting tribute to Cocker with Elad adding a pipe to his rockin' chair - and finally their encore - 'Evil' from their first self-titled album - with its Zeppish 'How Many More Times' type riff with a 'Howlin Wolf twist. Despite their current mobility issues for the rest of their European and American tour - SIMO are on a roll! If you missed them in the UK you can catch them them again at the Cornbury Festival on Friday 8th July and Ramblin' Man on Sunday 24th July. Do not miss out.