Every now and again a gig grabs the attention of the FnS contributors and slips into the `must see` category and this month its the visit of Wilko Johnson at The Lemon Tree on Saturday the 17th of September. I have to say this is a show we’re really looking forward to. SB
On Wilko – When rock’n’roll was shaken from its pre-punk complacency by the emergence of Dr. Feelgood, it was their guitarist Wilko Johnson who excited most attention – not only for the startling violence of his stage performance (which was to inspire countless imitators and become one of the classic images of rock’n’roll) but also for his guitar style which combined the roles of lead and rhythm guitar in driving riffs and a stuttering machine gun frenzy which altered conceptions of ‘guitar heroics’.
As a songwriter, from early Feelgood favourites like ‘Back in the Night’ to the power and poetry of ‘Dr. Dupree’ and ‘Sneaking Suspicion’ he has proved himself one of the best and most original exponents of R&B styles this side of the Atlantic. The list of ’70s New Wave bands who acknowledge the influence of Wilko and the Feelgoods is extensive and includes The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Jam, The Boomtown Rats, and across the Atlantic The Ramones and Blondie (who spent a whole night at a New York party wearing out their specially imported copy of the Feelgood’s first album, ‘Down by the Jetty’).
After his departure from Dr. Feelgood in 1977 Wilko formed his own band, and over the next few years worked with several personnel of varying degrees of musical accomplishment and mixed moral character. In 1980, while continuing to work with his own 3-piece, Wilko entered the ranks of Ian Dury’s brilliant Blockheads, co-writing writing several songs with Ian and featuring on the ‘Laughter’ album. Then in 1985 the Blockhead’s sensational and much loved bassist Norman Watt-Roy joined Wilko and for the last twenty-five years they have startled and blasted audiences from Helsinki to Madrid, Aberdeen to Istanbul, Toulouse to Tokyo.
Now with the revered Dylan Howe (another former Blockhead) on drums the band has reached an even greater level of musical mastery and manic brilliance, generally recognised as Wilko’s best band of all time. Rock’n’roll never got more savage than this! In 2008 the highly acclaimed film director Julien Temple set out to make a documentary film about the birth and all too brief phenomenon of Dr. Feelgood. ‘Oil City Confidential’ was premièred in October 2009 to very great critical acclaim and a series of awards. As the eccentric and enigmatic star of the film Wilko has attracted attention in some unexpected places; he has recently been filming alongside Sean Bean as Royal Executioner Ser Illyn Payne in HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones, due for release in spring 2011.
And special guest Ian Siegal – Charismatic and massively talented, Mojo magazine rated Siegal as “the cleverest writer and most magnetic performer of Blues in the UK.” In 2009, Mojo commended Siegal for recording the blues album of the year. Last year Siegal won Band of the Year at the 2010 British Blues Awards.
If Siegal had been around in the sixties he would today be accorded the same reverence as artists such as Van Morrison and Joe Cocker. A child of the seventies, Siegal dropped out of Art College in the late eighties to go busking in Germany. From the streets of Berlin, Siegal progressed to clubs around Nottingham, and then London, and ultimately to major stages around Europe.
He has a catalogue of highly regarded recordings to his credit. Siegal’s true forte is playing to an audience. He takes command of the stage in a way very few artists alive today can match. Sweat, passion, humour, balls-to-the-wind slide guitar and a soul-infused voice big enough to fell trees! It has won him an ever-growing following of fans and a horde of female admirers.
Tickets can be purchased here.