Review: Big Pete and The Backbones at Liverpool Marina: 12th March 2009

Posted on: Sunday, Mar 15, 2009


Until Easter 2008, it is fair to say that The Backbones were relatively unknown in the UK. They then took the main stage of the Burnley Blues Festival by storm and Holland’s best-kept secret was dramatically exposed. The band comprises Pieter ‘Big Pete’ van der Pluijm on lead vocals and harmonica, Sander Kooiman on guitar, Joost Tazelaar on drums and Jules ‘Lord Julius’ van Brakel on bass guitar.

The stall was set out from the start with a superb, pulsating variation on a Lester Butler theme in acknowledgement of one of Big Pete’s major influences. At the tender age of 23, he had been hand-picked to front Butler’s band on a European memorial tour, after which he formed The Lester Butler Tribute Band that boasted the talents of the equally phenomenal Matt Schofield. Otis Spann’s “I’m In Love With You, Baby” was followed by the bouncing shuffle, “You The One”, before a brilliant delivery of the Junior Wells slow blues, “Come On In This House”, which featured a terrific guitar solo. Pete then switched to chromatic harp for a hard-driven, jazzy instrumental that was beautifully underpinned by the band’s excellent rhythm section. The soulful “Nobody’s Waiting For You”, which will be included on a forthcoming new album, led into a slow shuffle, complete with a fabulous harp solo, before the first set was concluded with Wells’s “Love Me” with more guitar-based magic from Sander Kooiman.

The second set built on the marvellous foundation of the first session, with brilliant guitar and harp solos enhancing Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Keep It To Yourself”. A funky number then made way for the highlight of the evening, an absolutely fantastic version of “I Wish You Would”, which generated a mesmerising groove and featured an awesome harp solo. A slow shuffle then provided a suitable prelude for a wonderfully smouldering number, which delivered another sparkling cameo from the rhythm section. John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man” received the full treatment before the set climaxed with a magnificent rendition of “Automatic”, another classic from Lester Butler’s repertoire.

A wildly demanded encore came in the shape of Lowell Fulson/Jimmy McCracklin’s “Tramp” to complete a superlative show. This really is as good as it gets, and the encouragingly large audience lapped it up.

The Backbones website

Lionel Ross
(photograph by John R Welsh)

For more excellent photographs of the gig click here

Comments are closed.