Review: Johnny Dickinson – Liverpool – 30 Nov 2007

Posted on: Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

The Rodewald Suite, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool: 30/11/07

As part of their ‘After 8’ concert series at the intimate Rodewald Suite, situated within the Philharmonic Hall, the brilliant Northumbrian singer/guitarist, Johnny Dickinson, put on a marvellous evening of roots music – blues, country and more, with a heavy influence of his own home county’s traditional musical heritage.

A lengthy career saw him in a series of bands, most notably as a founder member of Paul Lamb The King Snakes, before he took the solo plunge, since when a series of fine releases have illustrated his magnificent slide guitar playing and his quite charming voice – lots of Paul Rodgers in it for me!

On a filthy, wet Liverpool night, and despite him suffering from a heavy cold, the excellent turnout were won over by his music and easy-going patter, all delivered in a thick Northumbrian accent with no lack of humour.

It is impossible to pick a weakness in his performance – a mix of traditional pieces, some originals and choice covers – taking us from England, Ireland and Scotland to America and further – with little guitar pieces gleaned from far-flung countries such as Japan and Morocco, sometimes presenting songs as medleys.

Songs from his “Castles & Old Kings” release featured heavily – with his glistening slide playing on the haunting “Beach Road”; the traditional “Black Jack Davy” – a tune he said had travelled between several countries; and “Jock O Hazeldene” – with lyrics by Sir Walter Scott.

Trying to save his voice he featured some instrumentals, including “The Drunken Piper”, which originated up in the borders between Northumberland and Scotland; and “Swimming Underwater” – with quite glorious guitar playing.

The blues feature a lot in his show – with a cover of KC Douglas’s “Mercury Blues” – nice Ry Cooder feel on this; but possibly best of all, the chilling “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground”, which segued into “She Moved Through The Fair” – truly stunning! He changed direction again for a well-merited encore, John Fogerty’s “Bad Moon Rising”, a bit hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival.


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