Review: The Honey Boy Hickling Band at Fogherty’s Function Room, Liverpool – 22nd March 2014

Posted on: Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

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Review: The Simon Honeyboy Hickling Band at Fogherty’s Function Room, Liverpool – 22nd March 2014

Some blues bands exude talent, some set feet tapping, some engage the audience with warmth and good humour and a handful tick all of those boxes and deliver a complete performance. Simon Hickling and his band are one of the few that fulfil that description. The Honeyboy on vocals and harmonica, Bob Wilson on guitar, Tony Bayliss on drums and Frank Walker on bass guitar are masters of their respective instruments and collectively form an impressively tight ensemble.

The maestro demonstrated his mastery of the blues harp with the opening number of the first set, a brilliant rendition of Little Walter’s “Juke”. There followed a compendium of blues styles, which incorporated the upbeat “Hey, Mattie”, the shuffle, “Just Your Fool”, and the insistent drive of “Judgement Day”, complete with some vibrant harmonica playing. The slow blues, “One Room Country Shack”, which featured lovely guitar work from Bob Wilson, was followed by Latin and Cajun rhythms and the slow rocker, “Louise”. Finally, a superb climax to the set delivered a magnificent rendition of James Harman’s “Icepick’s Confession” and an instrumental version of “Rockin’ Robin”.

The bar was raised even higher in the second set, starting with a vibrant performance of Canned Heat’s “Going Up The Country” and the bouncing “Mama Luchie”. From that point onward, the dance floor was fully occupied. “Never Rains, It Pours” gave way to “Wonderful Night” and Junior Wells’s funky masterpiece, “Broke And Hungry”. A brief respite was provided by Chuck Berry’s “Wee Wee Hours” before the earlier pace was re-engaged with “Too Many Drivers” and a terrific version of Berry’s “Let It Rock”, which afforded the opportunity for more magic from Bob Wilson.

The specially requested Rolling Stones classic, “Miss You”, was followed by some upbeat r’n’b and a fabulous medley comprising “That’s Alright” and “Mystery Train” with immaculate contributions from all four band members. The magic continued with a cracking version of “ Christo Redemptor” that Charlie Musselwhite would have been proud of. The wonderful set was concluded with “Bright Lights, Big City” and Steve Marriott’s “Big Train”, which prompted a deafening demand for an encore. Very appropriately, the final number was “Promised Land”, which was precisely where the audience had been taken.

Lionel Ross

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