Graham Parker & Brinsley Schwarz
The Apex, Bury St Edmunds
Thursday 22nd September ’16
Huge excitement, first time seeing Mr Parker, a big cheese in the music of my adolescence. Sadly no Rumour but as Mr Schwarz was a major player in said group it has the makings of a splendid evening. About this time it is customary to say but first the support act – nothing much to say, I’m sure Steven Wilson Jr did a good job…. Selling merchandise at the end of the evening.
Never mind all that, I’m not the only soul suffering with excitement. It looks like the, predominantly, male audience is here to wallow in the unreliable memories of youth and the half remembered songs that accompanied the illicit half of shandy in the snug, away from the blind eye of the benevolent landlord.
Now that I have slandered the audience let’s move on – after an unannounced and low key amble to the stage, the duo plugged in and launched into the marvelous “Watch the Moon Come Down” from “Stick To Me”, the second album by Graham Parker and The Rumour back in the late seventies. Indeed the majority of the nineteen song set came from the days of nostalgia, according to the man a deliberate choice to play the more well known stuff in a place they’ve never played before.
With Parker on the trusty acoustic rhythm guitar and Schwarz on the never showy but necessary electric lead all the great songs came at a fair lick, with machine gun delivery and lyrical verbosity concentration was required – No hardship at all, I’m just left with the thorny problem of exactly which highlights does this hapless reviewer highlight. But I must make mention of that good old wardrobe malfunction known as “Socks and Sandals” which, to my ears, must have been written after having been in the presence of the Dylan warhorse “Leopard skin pill-box hat”. That was followed by the song of the night “Disney’s America”, although the current news would suggest that the happy ending is some way off.
Lest he be forgotten we also got a brand new song, “You Miss Again”, from Brinsley’s brand new album, beguilingly called “Unexpected”, and a jolly good thing it was. Closely followed by “Stick To Me” which contained my favourite guitar solo of the evening, and to end a fab trilogy we got “Heat Treatment”, a staple of the repertoire and certainly something I remember from evenings spent under the bedclothes with my transistor radio.
Having proved to be a consummate guitarist Parker was obviously not satisfied and chose to demonstrate his mastery of the kazoo on the splendid “Pub Crawl”, which was the precursor to the closing sequence of two more crackers that easily warrant their place on any best of compilation “New York Shuffle” and “White Honey”.
Not unexpectedly the deserved ovation brought forth an encore – unexpectedly an accapella version of Sam Cooke’s “Cupid”, although no one can touch the original it was a lovely thing to do, as was the evening closer “Hold Back the Night” famously done by The Tramps. Smiling faces everywhere – stage, stalls, circle, participants, audience, staff – not a miserable soul to be seen.
Wonderful evening, nothing else to say… Anyone got a dictionary of superlatives?