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Friday, 31 October 2014

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THE term ‘legend’ is probably bandied around a little too freely nowadays, particularly when it comes to living musicians.

However, Wilko Johnson is surely deserving of the accolade, although he is, of course, very much still with us.

Carving out a rock solid career with Dr Feelgood, the RnB originators of hard-hitting pub rock in the early 1970s, Wilko has been there and done it, whatever you care to list.

After parting company with the Feelgoods, Wilko joined Ian Dury’s Blockheads in 1980, where he hooked up with top bassist Norman Watt-Roy. With the addition of a drummer, the two have been playing live shows together for the past 25 years.

At the show, in the Brewery’s Malt Room, they were joined by straight-hitting sticks-man Dylan Howe. Wilko’s trademarks were all there – the black Telecaster guitar with the red scratch plate, linked to his amp with a red curly guitar lead. He prowls the stage in staccato fashion with wild staring eyes, and a great feel for the rhythm and atmosphere of the songs, which are clearly routed in the blues rock tradition.

Norman Watt-Roy provides larger than life bass shapes which both inspire and boost Wilko’s quickfire delivery. Audience favourites include modern day renditions of Feelgoods classics such as Sneakin’ Suspicion, Roxette, Paradise, Back In The Night and She Does It Right.

Having featured extensively in the recent Dr Feelgood documentary film Oil City Confidential, Wilko continues to blaze a six-string trail that shows no signs of stopping.

DAVID DUFFIN

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