Reviewer: Sue Collier
This cast list says it all really. There is certainly no need for a support act when the world’s finest get together to produce two and a half hours of quality music that creates such a pleasurable experience.
Bill Wyman comes on stage to huge applause from a welcoming crowd. Sadly he has bad news to deliver, namely that Georgie Fame had been taken seriously ill overnight and is in hospital. Wyman is clearly concerned about his friend and all credit to the band who choose to continue without the talents of the well loved Mr Fame and work hard to adapt their programme.
The initial jazz number sung by Beverley Skeet promotes the desire to dance, although not possible in this seated venue Skeet dances all night and throughout the evening hardly anyone in the audience remains still in their seats.
The horn section is particularly strong with the amazing Frank Meade and Nick Payn playing with style and energy, dancing rhythmically in unison to entertain a delighted crowd.
Terry Taylor engages strong audience participation on the Elmore James song Talk to Me Baby. Guest artist Maria Muldaur joins the band for lead and backing vocals on a range of tunes, her voice in harmony and complementing Skeet’s. The quality of Frank Meade’s saxophone and harmonica playing is a huge asset. He has great rapport with the crowd, dances throughout his performance and is a true entertainer with tremendous energy and style.
The performance lasts a very generous two hours fifty minutes with an impressive set list of 27 numbers. Energy levels are remarkably high throughout, with Wyman remaining his usual laid back self, his constant smile evidencing his joy of playing with the Rhythm Kings. He has such a relaxed style of bass playing that his fingers can hardly be seen moving across the frets of his guitar.
The performance is informative and provides a musical education with songs written by the likes of Eta James, Bob Dylan, Fats Domino and Buster Brown presented in various styles such as rockabilly, rag time and rhythm and blues.
The highlights of the show are the legendary Albert Lee’s guitar playing and the quality of Skeet’s vocals on This is a Man’s World and I Just Want to Make Love to You. She is brilliantly accompanied by the dextrous Geraint Watkins on keyboards – he exudes personality and was full of humour. Skeet, the honorary Rhythm Queen is highly watchable; she has great presence and an incredibly powerful vocal range.
The sound quality is good, though at times the balance could be better, the harmonica needs to be louder.
It is very notable that there is no competitiveness on stage with every member of the band playing an important part during each number. On first entering the stage, Wyman explains that the band members are there to enjoy themselves and that he hopes the audience enjoy themselves too and that is exactly what happens. What a privilege to be entertained by such true artists who know their craft inside out and love what they are doing.