Review: The Simon Honeyboy Hickling Band – Garston Royal British Legion – 23 Apr 2010

Posted on: Friday, Apr 30, 2010

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There are few bluesmen that could successfully follow a Hamilton Loomis gig but, fortunately for the punters at Garston RBL, harmonica maestro, Simon Hickling, is one who sits comfortably in that exclusive category. Backed by his excellent band, the Honeyboy hit the floor running and maintained his customary, exhilarating pace throughout a highly entertaining performance. He was also in a particularly exuberant mood and the humour flowed like honey to complement the wonderful music.

The first set mixed a couple of Little Walter numbers with cracking versions of “Messin’ With The Kid” and “Broke And Hungry”, with due deference to Junior Wells. There were also some excellent original compositions – notably, the upbeat “Hey, Mattie” and the frantically-paced “Judgment Day”, which was brilliantly driven by drummer, Tony Baylis, and bass guitarist, Frank Walker. Guitarist, Bob Wilson, showed his class with his excellent interpretation of “The Stumble” and a lovely solo in the middle of a slow blues. The climax of the set was a magnificent rendition of James Harman’s “Icepick’s Confession”, which featured some great harp from the Honeyboy.

The second set opened with Canned Heat’s “Going Up The Country” and the ever-popular “Mama Luchie”, followed by a sequence of rock and roll classics, including “Nadine”, “Hand Jive” and “What A Wonderful Night”, that tempted a group of local lovelies to grace the dance floor. “Miss You” was enhanced by a tasty bass-line from Frank Walker and a helping of slide guitar from Bob Wilson before Simon Hickling delivered a fabulous performance of Charlie Musselwhite’s “Christo Redemptor”. The set was completed in grand style with Steve Marriott’s “Big Train” and a vibrant delivery of “Mystery Train”.

The delighted audience’s appreciation was loudly declared and suitably acknowledged by two rousing encores. Top class entertainment from a richly accomplished group of musicians, fronted by a consummate showman, whose ability to combine brilliant musicianship with infectious humour never ceases to delight.

Lionel Ross

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