Thursday 21st October 2021
The Beaverwood Marquee, Chislehurst, Kent
Billed as a 'Night Of Hendrix, Clapton & Cream' at 'The Marquee', this no doubt would have brought back happy memories to the blessed at The Beaverwood tonight who actually saw the real thing at that iconic Club in London's Wardour Street back in 1967. Indeed, as I pointed out to guitarist Peter Orr, drummer John Tonks and new bass guitarist Jevon Beaumont, in our short interview backstage beforehand, unbelievably it's just over 50 years since Jimi left this mortal coil, and 53 years since Cream split for the first time.
The amalgamation of Hendrix and Clapton's song titles, these of course being Jimi's 'Voodoo Child' and 'Eric's White Room' (geddit?), stunning power-trio Voodoo Room are Internationally regarded for thrilling audiences with their incredible live shows and renditions of classic masterpieces. However, following many years of paying tribute to some of the greatest names in Rock history, last November they released on Grooveyard Records, their first original album, 'Tension City Blues', to critical acclaim, including our very own Di Foxy. Twelve tracks that still obviously pay homage to these two masters, but also a major stake in the ground, given the composition and delivery of their new recordings, showcasing the band's song writing skills, individual sound and identity.
As expected, their first set was a bit like dining out on a continuous supply of succulent fillet steak (apologies to any vegetarians out there), although the richness of the menu at no time made us heave, we just wanted more. More? Indeed, a Hendrix sandwich with a Cream filling was slowly devoured by both the band and audience alike, kicking off with 'Are You Experienced', 'Crosstown Traffic' and 'Foxy Lady', with Gibson SG/Fender Stratocaster virtuoso, Orr, both introducing the band and joking that he felt like he was at a wedding inside this temporary 'Marquee', given the planned rebuild of this popular Chislehurst music venue.
It must have been the Autumn draft that had Peter complaining about his "cold strings", but that didn't prevent Beckenham's finest from blowing us away with his blindsiding guitar and vocal renditions, as things continued to warm up with Cream's meat in the sandwich, namely the 'Disraeli Gears' opener 'Strange Brew', 'I Feel Free', 'Takes Of Brave Ulysses' with Orr throwing in a few Townsend shapes for good measure, 'Spoonful' and "If you don't know this song" ... 'Sunshine Of Your Love'. The Cream faithful lapped it up, as did the 'Voodoo Virgins', as they finished with a Hendrix holy trinity. It's wonderful to hear live music again, but one thing I haven't missed is people chatting when the band are playing. Just shut the fuck up! Totally disrespectful, but of course 'Little Wing' was played with aplomb, as was 'Red House', including the vey amusing 'Tension City Blues' t-shirt sales pitch by Jevon, given "it was cold outside", although they saved the best to last with my personal favourite, 'Hey Joe' and a 'Day Tripper' outro twist. Superb.
"We're going to do some Eric Clapton for you .." cue anguished faces in our WRC contingent as we tried to discern what the second set opener's title was (thankfully Peter subsequently put us out of our misery - 'Motherless Children'), although next, some 'Cocaine' cleared our muddled senses, followed by an abridged version of 'Layla' (Orr holding his hands up on that one) with, finally, another one that had us all initially guessing, 'After Midnight'. It was time now for a (slight) return to Hendrix and some more big hitters, namely 'Purple Haze', 'Fire' and 'Third Stone From The Sun', with Beaumont then continuing the excellent banter, as they did their mailing list draw for two free gig tickets for a future gig (all flights not included).
Peter then strapped on his big red one (oo er mrs). 'Shock' horror? Well 'Shock' yes - horror no - as the guys debuted the only track from their aforementioned 'Tension City Blues' album, the rhythm of which brought to mind 'Strange Brew', that included some excellent screaming guitar. Being Mr. Picky, it would have been good to hear a couple more tracks from the album given an airing, such as the 'Spirit In The Sky' sounding 'Piece By Piece', the instrumental 'Double 6' or the album closer 'Share The Blues', but hey, I suppose we only have Cream and Hendrix to blame for that, as Voodoo Room continued their set with yet another classic, and the former's iconic 'White Room'.
"You want another one?" Time for Tonks now to step up to the plate with an amazing drum solo. There's no denying the pedigree of this leading session musician, who has recorded with Stevie Winwood and played with Eric Clapton, however, he showed another side of his professionalism when he had what could only be described as a drum malfunction halfway through his solo. "I want you to do me a favour - keep clapping"! Who were we to argue as once it was fixed, he led into Clapton classic, 'Crossroads', but would you believe it, Jevon, who has also played with Jo Harman, Boot Led Zeppelin and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, also suffered a similar malfunction on his bass guitar solo! "On. Off. On. Off. On. Off." he sang, as he successfully twiddled his amps, eventually sorting the gremlins out! No such problems, thankfully on their Hendrix closer, 'Voodoo Chile', complemented of course by Orr's 'Star Spangled Banner' outro.
One other thing I haven't missed during lockdown, is when a band says, "We have to finish - they're the rules". Suffice to say that we didn't want the night to end, young and old, and despite the fact that most of tonight's setlist was written over half a century ago, thankfully Voodoo Room are keeping that legacy well and truly alive. And long may that continue.