Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings
with special guest Maria Muldaur
Start: 8 pm. end 10.55 pm (20 minute interval)
Bill Wyman – bass, vocal
Albert Lee –guitar, piano, vocal
Geraint Watkins – piano, vocal
Beverley Skeete – vocal, percussion
Graham Broad- drums, vocal
Terry Taylor- guitar, vocal
Nick Payne – saxophones, clarinet, percussion
Frank Mead – saxophones, harmonica, percussion, vocal
Maria Muldaur – vocals
Georgie Fame was recuperating from pneumonia, so absent from the tour.
??? – Geraint Watkins vocal
Sweet Soul Music (Arthur Conley) – Beverley Skeete vocal
Muleskinner Blues (Jimmie Rodgers)– Albert Lee vocal
Just Your Fool (Little Walter)– Frank Mead vocal
I’m A Woman (Leiber & Stoller)Maria Muldaur vocal
Steady Love (Greg Brown) – Maria Muldaur vocal
I’ll Be Glad (Elvin Bishop)– Maria Muldaur vocal
Time Is On My Side (Jerry Ragovoy)- Geraint Watkins vocal
Talk To Me (Elmore James)– Terry Taylor vocal, slide gtr
Jitterbug Boogie – Albert Lee vocal
Good Rockin’ Daddy (Etta James) Beverley Skeete vocal + Maria Muldaur
It’s A Man’s Man’s World – Beverley Skeete vocal
Sugar Babe (Buster Brown) – Frank Mead vocal
Jump, Jive & Wail (Louis Prima) – Albert Lee vocal
300 Pounds of Joy (Howlin’ Wolf)- Geraint Watkins vocal
I’ll Be Satisfied (Jackie Wilson) – Beverley Skeete vocal
Race With The Devil (Gene Vincent) – Terry Taylor vocal
Richland Woman Blues (Mississippi John Hurt)– Maria Muldaur vocal
Midnight At The Oasis – Maria Muldaur vocal
Don’t You Feel My Leg (Blue Lu Barker)– Maria Muldaur vocal
Johnny B. Goode (to new tune) – Geraint Watkins vocal
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob Dylan)– Albert Lee vocal
I Just Want To Make Love To You (Etta James version) Beverley Skeete vocal
Crying In The Rain (Everly Brothers)– Albert Lee & Beverley Skeete vocals
You Never Can Tell (Chuck Berry)– Bill Wyman vocals
My review two years ago had some angry responses, because it was a rare negative one. I wouldn’t have bought a ticket for this one, except I’m a great fan of Maria Muldaur. The Geoff & Maria Muldaur albums, Pottery Pie and Sweet Potatoes still get played, and both Midnight at The Oasis and Waitress in a Donut Shop were bought immediately on release. I’ve kept up too, though I haven’t bought everything.
What can you say? Three hours including a twenty minute interval, a standing ovation, many wonderful moments from an assembly of highly proficient and inspirational musicians. A true star in Maria Muldaur giving her all.
What you can say though, and it’s what two friends in different parts of the hall said in the interval, the sound mixer was abysmal, just as in 2011 in the same hall. As one said, ‘You have such fantastic work on stage and a guy with cloth ears at the board.’ Last time I was near the back. This time right at the front centre. Identical issue. The vocals were far too low in the mix, and the mics had a tinny quality. In Geraint Watkins opening vocal, I couldn’t hear the vocal enough to distinguish words or tune. That was the worst one for sound.
Why? Last time I wondered if it was inability to adjust to the live acoustic of a classical hall, but others have got good sound here (though not everyone … jazz and folk do better than rock). Then someone said they saw an earlier show on the tour, and loved it, but the vocals were also way too quiet. As last time, the band wasn’t loud at all. It was just a poor mix. My suspicions were confirmed that part is over-amplified drums, as when the drummer moved to percussion in Richland Woman Blues, Maria Muldaur soared out and the mix sounded better. Again, in I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, the drummer played quietly and the sound improved vastly. Generally, the vocals sounded better after the interval, or maybe I got used to the sound. Certainly Beverley Skeete’s It’s A Man’s, Man’s World sounded truly superb as the second half opened, but it did last time … they were definitely playing quieter. Last time I barely heard Bill Wyman’s bass, this time further forward I could. He plays so softly with his thumb, right up on the start of the neck, that the bass is indistinct, and never, never funky or driving. The softly plopping bass may add murkiness. Now I could hear it, it was all very nice and subtle, but as last time, I longed for a change of playing style. The same intro lines as 2011 got used too (This tour’s not a career move, This song’s by a nasty piece of work). But Bill’s likable.
But in the first encore, when Albert Lee moves to the piano, and duets with Beverley Skeete on The Everly Brothers Crying In The Rain with Terry Taylor on guitar (last time in 2011 it was So Sad in this slot), they sounded way better, with Albert Lee sounding especially clear, but then there was microphone popping. I don’t understand it. A paid consultation with Leonard Cohen’s or Paul Simon’s or The Full English’s sound guys would be very well worthwhile before the 2014 tour.
The Everly Brothers male/female duet is a Lee / Skeete speciality, and has come very much in fashion in 2013: see the Bonnie Prince Billy / Dawn McCarthy What The Brothers Sang and Bille Joe Armstrong / Norah Jones on Foreverly. Albert Lee, who backed The Everly Brothers, was there first.
The Rhythm Kings did a similar set to 2011, but I thought they had more individual stage presence this time around. Terry Taylor, Beverley Skeete, Frank Meade, and Geraint Watkins are all great at introducing songs … Geraint Watkins long, long intro to 300 Pounds of Joy was first rate stand-up comedy. He also did his special job on Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry’s words, but such a radical rearrangement that it’s a new tune. They all have a good line in gently joshing Bill Wyman too. Maybe it was being one short due to Georgie Fame’s illness that actually helped … it must have meant an extra song for Geraint at least, and it helps sometimes to have a larger role. Terry Taylor said more too, and it was unfair to introduce him as ‘rhythm guitar’ as he and Albert Lee shared lead guitar parts all evening.
Maria Muldaur did everything I’d hoped for. The first four on my wish list were Midnight At The Oasis and Don’t You Feel My Leg from the Midnight At The Oasis album, then I’m A Woman from Waitress At A Donut Shop, and Richland Woman Blues from the album of the same name. Then we got two from Steady Love, the title track and I’ll Be Glad. Of course I would have preferred a straight 90 minutes of Maria Muldaur, but there you go. She also joined in with Beverley Skeete on Etta James’ Good Rockin’ Daddy and the two of them backed Geraint Watkins for Time Is On My Side and sang (and shimmied) on the chorus on You Never Can Tell which was sung by Bill Wyman, and has that frenzied dancing jumping saxophone duetting that is the Rhythm Kings hallmark.
An excellent evening. It’s a pity to repeat the criticism of sound mixing again, but it really is below par on vocal volume, tone and quality, and well below the technical possibilities of 2013. But also they don’t use lighting plots at all … the hall lights were partly on throughout too.
LINK to 2011 REVIEW at Poole, with Mary Wilson.