Review: Larry Garner and the Norman Beaker Band at Burtonwood Blues Club – 14th May 2010
Posted on: Wednesday, May 19, 2010
As is customary on these occasions, the Norman Beaker Band were on stage ready to perform a couple of numbers before the star of the show was introduced. “I’m delighted to say that tonight we have a brilliant singer/guitarist to entertain us.“ enthused MC, Ray O’Hare. Norman tried to look suitably modest. “However, before that,” Ray continued, “please welcome the Norman Beaker Band.” Norman’s face dropped and he responded in a flash, “Blimey (or words to that effect), I wouldn’t like to have him talk me down off a roof.”
Undeterred, the band opened the show with the upbeat rocker, “Option On You, Baby” and the slow and bluesy “When The Fat Lady Sings” before introducing Larry Garner. The man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, went straight on the offensive with the driving “Jook Joint Woman”, the soulful “Man With A Broken Heart” and the fast-moving “Don’t Buy Me No Whiskey”. A slow blues then delivered a succession of fine solos from several members of the band before Dave Baldwin provided some lovely ivory tinkling on the ballad, “Miracles Of Time”. The set was brought to a foot-tapping climax with “Keep On Playing The Blues”, complete with a tasty bass line from John Price, brilliant drumming from Steve Gibson and some nifty fast talking from Larry Garner in his humorous telling of a salutary tale.
After the band had eased into the second set with a medium-paced rocker, Larry Garner returned to the fray with another beautifully-delivered slow blues before upping the tempo with the bouncing rocker, “She’s The Boss”. Norman Beaker then took over the vocals for a fine rendition of “Sitting On Top Of The World” while Larry responded with the Latin-rhythmed “No Free Rides” to which he added a splendid guitar solo that was eminently matched by Kim Nishikawara and Dave Baldwin on sax and keys respectively. A funk-drenched number was superbly performed, with the whole band playing an absolute blinder, and the terrific set was concluded with a vibrant rocker.
The icing on the already highly palatable cake was a magnificent rendition of “Mannish Boy”/”Hoochie Coochie Man”, on which Garner’s marvellous vocals were uncannily Watersesque. This was a fabulous ending to a great night’s entertainment, with Larry Garner’s warm personality and humour adding significantly to the excellent musical mix.