Review: The Ben Waters Trio at the Rodewald Suite, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool – 28th May 2011
Posted on: Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The cosy Rodewald Suite provided an entirely appropriate, intimate atmosphere for this marvellous celebration of boogie woogie music. The richly talented Ben Waters, on Steinway grand piano and vocals, was backed by his excellent long-standing rhythm section of Ady Milward on drums and Richard Hymas on bass guitar.
The first set started with the fast-moving “Down The Road Apiece” and “Rooming House Boogie”, the first of several tracks from the superb, recently released album Boogie 4 Stu – A Tribute To Ian Stewart. Ady Milward then took over the vocals on “Bring It On Home To Me” before passing the mantle to Richard Hymas on the upbeat rocker, “Last Man Alive”, which Ben Waters sold some time ago to Shakin’ Stevens.
The slow and bluesy “Got An Uncle In Harlem”, which was introduced as ‘having been written during the great depression – not this one, the previous one’, was followed by a splendid instrumental rendition of Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks At Home”. Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Waitin’At The End Of The Road” provided another twinkle-fingered piano solo before making way for a great delivery of Bob Dylan’s “Watching The River Flow”. The set was concluded with the rippling boogie woogie, “This Hurricane Won’t Last” and “Cadillac Boogie”, which careered along in overdrive.
After Jimmy Yancey’s “”Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor” opened the second set, “Bad, Bad Whiskey” led into one of the highlights of the evening, a brilliant, hilarious version of Johnny B Goode. Dedicated to an East German balalaika player, named Igor, who came late to rock and roll music following the dismantling of the Berlin wall, the performance drifted in and out of Eastern European themes to terrific effect. Ady Milward and Richard Hymas then returned to the mic on three numbers before another master class by Ben Waters on a fabulous delivery of Albert Ammons’s magical “Boogie Woogie Stomp”.
The wonderful second set ended with a terrific performance of Ray Charles’s “What’d I Say”, which prompted a standing ovation and a loud demand for an encore. Full audience participation was secured with tongue-twisting mayhem on “Sarah, Sarah, Sitting At The Shed House Door” in advance of a final helping of superlative dexterity from the master of the ivories on Amos Milburn’s “House Party (Tonight)”, to complete a truly memorable evening.
(photograph by Maggie Price)