Review: Memo Gonzalez – Warrington – 14 Sep

Posted on: Monday, Sep 17, 2007

Memo Gonzalez & The Bluescasters /
The Band Of Thieves
Warrington Rhythm & Blues Club, at Warrington Town FC: 14/09/07

The opening night of the new season at Warrington Rhythm & Blues kicked off with a rip-roaring double bill – the return of one of Europe’s finest bands in the shape of Memo Gonzalez & The Bluescasters, with excellent support from The Band Of Thieves – Liverpool-based, with adopted Cestrian Ken Peace joining the band on harmonica.

The packed house were treated to over three hours of terrific blues, with The Band Of Thieves opening the show with a great hour. The band, led by the great guitar and vocals of Neil Partington, also comprise Steve Brown (bass), Nick Lauro (drums) and Glennie Lewis (keyboards), with the aforementioned Ken Peace on harmonica.

Neil Partington and Ken Peace used to be members of the band Down At Antone’s some ten years ago, but showed they still deliver together, an example being the opening “Riding In The Moonlight” – with great guitar and harmonica solos; this was followed by a funky “Black Cat Bone”, which led into a rumba and into “T-Bone Shuffle” – top stuff!

Other highlights included a slow blues work-out on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Cross My Heart”, and, possibly best of all, a jazzy shuffle through the timeless “Every Day I Have The Blues”, with the whole band locked into a great groove!

This was a most promising performance, which was very well received, and with hopefully more gigs to come, definitely a band worth catching. Special mention must also go to the rock-solid rhythm section of Steve Brown and Nick Lauro, and Glennie Lewis’s fine keyboard work.

With regular visits to these shores, the German based, Memo Gonzalez & The Bluescasters, have established themselves as firm favourites on the blues circuit, and in 90-minutes plus created a party atmosphere with their mix of Chicago, Texas and Louisiana styles.

The larger than life Texan, Memo Gonzalez is a fine front man – backed by the superb band of Kai Strauss (guitar and vocals), Erkan Ozdemir (bass) and Henk Punter (drums) – a band who have few equals in Europe, particularly the extraordinary guitar playing of Kai Strauss, who has every style in the book nailed!

A varied set featured a mix of favourites, some covers and a couple of new tunes, with the band on top form throughout. Kai Strauss and the rhythm section started the set with a couple of songs before the big man appeared, including Junior Parker’s “I Wanna Ramble” – complete with plenty of guitar fireworks.

A couple of Texas roadhouse rockers went down a storm – the great “Give It To Me” and personal favourite, “I Wanna Tell You Pretty Baby”; with the pace taken down for Clarence Carter’s great Southern soul tune, “Slip Away”.

We were treated to a new tune, still without a name, but in a very Jimmy Reed type groove, complete with fine harmonica from Memo, with the swinging “Mama, I Like Your Thighs” turning into a harmonica summit, with Ken Peace, and fellow local player, Johnny Hewitt, invited on to the stage to trade solos.

A truly great night ended with a brace of encores, firstly in the shape of the rollicking “Big Time Operator”, with Kai Strauss going walkabout on his solo, and followed by a lovely slow ballad for a packed dance floor!

Well done to Ray and Barbara O’Hare for putting this show on – a visit to Warrington is always a great night, with a most friendly crowd, checkout forthcoming attractions on their website –