Review: The Stumble at Haig House, Liverpool – 20 February 2009
Posted on: Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009
This was the first gig presented by John and Lorraine Welsh at Haig House, the home of Garston Royal British Legion. The venue is spacious and comfortable and ideally suited to the large attendance that was attracted by the appearance of The Stumble. The atmosphere was excellent: a perfect match for a superb performance from the pride of Preston.
The band bounced into gear with “It’s A Lie” and “You Upset Me, Baby” before lead guitarist Colin Black switched to harp for “Kind Of Girl”. The slow and bluesy “Flesh And Bone” gave way to the upbeat “Bus Stop”, the first of several numbers from the band’s brilliant new album, Houngan. Vocalist, Paul Melville, then excelled on a fabulous rendition of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, which also featured sublime guitar work from Black and Jonny Spencer and a fine tenor sax solo from Simon Anthony. “Gonna Paint The Town Tonight”, a dose of unadulterated rock and roll, was followed by the rumba-rhythmed “Saturday Night” and “Leadin’ Me On”, with Anthony switching to baritone sax for the last two numbers. The first set was brought to a close with “The World Is Tough”, the excellent title track of the band’s previous album.
The second set opened with the Bo Diddley beat of “Your Love For Me” and a second helping of rumba with “Sugar Don’t Taste So Sweet”. The slow blues, “All Over Again”, then brought the house down, as it always does, with Melville once again magnificent on vocals, Black delivering a magical guitar solo and Anthony providing another excellent sax solo as he went walkabout amid the audience. The galloping pace of “Meet Me At The Bottom” was contrasted with the calming balm of “Sit Right Here” and the hypnotic beat of “Houngan”, which saw Colin Black revert to harp and Simon Anthony to baritone sax. Meanwhile, a splendid-looking didgeridoo remained conspicuously unplayed in the absence of any guest appearance by Harper.
The broad-ranged miscellany continued with “Let The Good Times Roll” and the medium-paced shuffle, “Be My Baby” when an unplanned hiatus occurred as a result of Jonny Spencer’s breaking a string. No problem. Undaunted, Paul Melville, simply filled the gap with a wonderful a capella delivery of “Sign Your Name”, accompanying himself on beer glass and coin. The climax arrived in the form of “Gimme Back Your Wig”, expertly driven by Spencer on slide guitar and the first class foundation of Boyd Tonner on drums and Dave Heath on bass guitar. The applause was deafening as was the call for an encore, to which the band responded with “Small World”.
There is little doubt that Haig House will be used again to host a blues gig: there is absolutely no doubt that The Stumble will be invited back.
(photograph by John R Welsh)
for more excellent photos of the gig by John, click here