Review: The Honeyboy Hickling Band at Fogherty’s, Liverpool – 15 March 2008

Posted on: Friday, Mar 21, 2008

Following The Stumble’s great success in December last year, another of the UK’s class acts was lined up for the second blues gig at Fogherty’s in Liverpool. Simon Honeyboy Hickling has been delighting the country’s blues fans for a number of years now and his effervescent performances show no sign of diminishing. He was as vibrant and energetic as ever and his harmonica playing was straight out of the top drawer.

Little Walter’s “Juke” set the tone for the evening and was followed by an excellent array of rhythms and tempi. The first set included the driving beat of “Hey, Mattie”, the shuffling “Just Your Fool” and a brilliant version of the slow blues “One Room Country Shack”. The set ended with a vibrant first helping of Chuck Berry.

The second set opened with the band’s wonderful version of Canned Heat’s “Going Up The Country” and the foot-tapping “Momma Luchie”. It also contained “What A Wonderful Night”, which immediately had the dancers streaming onto the dance floor, “Bright Lights, Big City” and, to slow things down, “Wee Wee Hours”. Guitarist Bob Wilson fitted a couple of impeccable solos into the proceedings to give Simon a breather; and there was a magnificent rendition of “Mystery Train”, which, as always, brought the house down. Whilst the Honeyboy’s tremendous harp playing was the highlight of that number, full credit must be given to Tony Baylis’s fabulous drumming that sustained the breath-taking momentum. Special mention is also due to new bass guitarist, Frank Walker, who fitted seamlessly into the superb ensemble.

“High Healed Sneakers” and “Promised Land” provided a suitably upbeat encore to complete a terrific evening. This band never fails to hit the mark, combining consummate artistry with uplifting warmth and humour. A sheer delight.

Lionel Ross

Honeyboy Hickling Band

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