True rock and roll… Feelgoods keep the faith

SOMETIME in the early 1970s, when the rock revolution was threatened with a ‘progressive’ Armageddon, four men from Canvey Island went on a mission to save the world.

Led by an enigmatic vocalist who answered to the name Lee Brilleaux, rhythm and blues was back with a vengeance, intent on persuading enthusiasts to return to the true religion.

Half a century later, the Canvey link may be a tad tenuous but the gospel’s teachings remain unchanged – that rock music is about the heart not the head.

For quite a few years, the star of the show has been without doubt guitarist Steve Walwyn, an axeman par excellence who delivers solo after blistering solo, squeezing his Telecaster until the frets pop.

Yes, meet Steve… the guitar hero from Warwickshire’s Avon Delta, a man whose very pores ooze the blues.

The evidence is there for all to see and hear. Witness his version of John Lee Hooker’s Mad Man Blues, the way he burns the boards with a turbo-charged slide explosion on Elmore James’ Dust My Broom, and seems possessed with the spirit of the late Albert King as he eases and teases through the last number of the first half.

But a band as good as the Feelgoods is never just about one man. The rhythm section, comprising drummer Kevin Morris and Phil Mitchell on bass, powered the whole thing along without respite. Too often unsung heroes but heroes nonetheless

Meanwhile, vocalist Robert Kane carried the torch passed to him by the late Lee Brilleaux. Roxette, She Does it Right, Down at the Doctors, the gloriously evergreen Milk and Alcohol… these classics poured forth in a constant stream which at times almost outdid the flood-bloated Severn, at that very moment lapping the perimeter of the Swan Theatre.

And the finale? This was Bobby Troup’s Route 66, a 100-mile-an-hour stormer which proved beyond doubt that a capacity crowd really had got their kicks on this wet and windy Worcestershire night.

John Phillpott

 

 

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