Review – Fabulous Thunderbirds – Southport
Posted on: Saturday, Jul 21, 2007
THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS
Southport Arts Centre: 19 July 2007
Since their formation in Austin, Texas in 1974, The Fabulous Thunderbirds have been a must-see attraction for blues fans, especially as UK visits are now quite rare, in fact the last time I saw them was at Colne in 1986, when they played a one-off gig and later the festival.
Constant through all line-ups has been the stunning harmonica and vocals of Kim Wilson – arguably the greatest white harmonica player of all time – and he has surrounded himself with a top notch band, consisting of Kirk Fletcher (guitar), Nick Curran (vocals and guitar), Ronnie James Weber (bass) and most recent member, Jay Moeller on drums.
The band kicked off with an up-tempo start of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Ridin’ In The Moonlight”, and a rollicking “My Babe”, before the funky, soulful “Postman” off the recent “Painted On” release, illustrating Wilson’s fine voice.
The 90-minute show saw a lot of the songs stretched out, but fans of the early bar-band days (and three-minute tunes) were treated to a swinging “Wait On Time” from the first album, and “She’s Tuff”, also from the same waxing.
The two guitars of Kirk Fletcher and Nick Curran were given plenty of opportunity to shine – but a couple of minor gripes here – Fletcher’s seemed very quiet (perhaps that’s how he likes it), and those who have Curran’s solo releases would have been disappointed by the fact he only was given one vocal all show.
However, the large crowd lapped the band up, with “Early In The Morning” seeing Kim Wilson going ‘walkabout’ in the crowd, while blowing some stunning acoustic harmonica and finishing the vocal as well from the aisle.
He showed why he is so highly rated by blues fans and fellow musicians with the show closer – a storming “Hoochie Coochie Man”, which segued into a fast shuffle in ‘E’ (thanks Ken!), before a mega-long harmonica solo containing every trick in the book – very impressive, but a little overblown for me (no pun intended). The band returned to finish the shuffle and were then gone – only Wilson returning for a solo “Nine Below Zero” to round the night off.
A few fashion notes may be in order here. Nick Curran, the most unlikely looking bluesman you will ever see, looked splendid in ‘brothel’ creepers, white skinny jeans, and possible Eddie Cochran/Gene Vincent sleeveless t-shirt and padlock jewellery, not to mention extensive tattoos, but nothing compared to Ronnie James Weber’s amazing collection of artwork – truly spectacular!
A great night, bar a few gripes, and well done to the promoter for bringing the band to the area, it was nice to catch up with a lot of friends from across the North West – the blues fans are just lovely people!