Review: The Cadillac Kings – Fogherty’s Function Room, Liverpool – 25 Nov 2011

Posted on: Monday, Nov 28, 2011

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On their first appearance in Liverpool, The Cadillac Kings stormed the city in front of a packed house at Fogherty’s Function Room. Singer/songwriter Mike Thomas fronted the extravaganza with his customary bonhomie, superbly supported by Gary Potts on harmonica, Mal Barclay on guitar, Eric Ranzoni on keyboards and the rock solid rhythm section of Roy Webber on drums and Paul Cuff on double bass.

The band swung into action with Jimmy McCracklin’s “Gonna Tell Your Mama” before Gary Potts took over from Mike Thomas on lead vocals with a rousing performance of his own composition, “Hot Rod V8 Ford”. The upbeat shuffle, “Sugar Rush” provided lovely harp and keyboard solos while Earl King’s “A Man Needs His Lovin’” gave Mal Barclay license to showcase his considerable skill on guitar. Gary Potts led the charge on Rod Piazza’s “Somebody”, handing back to Mike Thomas for a fine rendition of Brook Benton’s “Kiddio”.

Drummer Roy Webber claimed the mic on the rumba-rhythmed “Sick And Tired”, which featured the key-rippling excellence of Eric Ranzoni. It was then Mal Barclay’s turn on vocals on “Honey Bee”, to which he added another terrific guitar solo, followed by Gary Potts with James Harman’s “Stranger Blues”, with Mike Thomas on slide guitar. The foot-tapping “Chain Gang Boogie” gave way to the mellow and jazzy “Fries With That”, complete with brilliantly whimsical Thomas lyrics. The marvellous set ended with the jump jive-oriented “I Can’t Stop It”, which was embellished by another helping of scintillating piano playing.

The second set kicked off with the rousing rocker, “Bombshell Blonde”, with Mike Thomas back on slide guitar, followed by “Boogie With My Baby” with impressive vocal harmonies from Thomas and Webber in support of Gary Potts. Mal Barclay took centre stage on “Mean Old Frisco”, handing over to Roy Webber for the Texas shuffle, “Rock With Me”, which soon had the dance area packed with gyrating punters. Warm acknowledgement was afforded to Kim Wilson for his influence on the band’s version of “Tiger Man” before the pace was eased by a brilliant rendition of “The Spirit is Willing But The Flesh is Week”, enhanced by wonderful solos on harp, guitar and keyboards.

The rest of the magnificent second set underlined the superb versatility of the band as it careered through a broad spectrum of blues-related styles. “Just A Matter Of Time” bounced along while “Down Boy Down”, Jimmy Vaughan’s “Boom Bapa Boom” and “8 Ball Jack” added touches of swing, rock and jive respectively. The finale comprised fabulous renditions of Harman’s “Icepick’s Confession” and Thomas’s “Elmore’s Shuffle”, the latter as a loudly demanded encore, to complete a masterclass of performance, combining expert musicianship with an irresistible stage presence. It was good time blues at its very best.

Lionel Ross

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