Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Top notch musicianship with segues that are both informative and funny. The whole show fizzes with noise and energy. What’s not to like!
Bounding onto the stage at theSpace Niddry Street’s packed Lower Theatre comes the irrepressible Mr Kenneth B Woode, resplendent in a dazzling red suit and matching shoes and with the energy of Mick Jagger on speed, inviting us on a journey to the top ten places in the history of blues and soul, starting right at its very heart in, ‘erm, Canvey Island.
So begins an hour of barnstorming music woven together with anecdotes and the back stories of how some of the genre’s most famous songs came to be penned.
The vibrant eight piece band is made up of percussion, two guitars, bass, vocals and a trio of sax, trumpet and trombone, a wonderful fusion of instruments from which a wall of sound emanated as they careered around the generously sized stage. Starting out, appropriately, with Going Back Home the octet is soon into the groove with its driving rhythms, lively vocals and energetic instrumentation.
Next stop, it’s Chicago and Messin’ With The Kid, a tribute to Buddy Guy, now well into his ninth decade and one of the last active practitioners of the Chicago blues genre he had a lot to do with developing and whose playing influenced a host of others, Clapton, Richards and Hendrix to name but three.
To Kansas City next, home to Big Joe Turner and jump blues. Turner was actually the brains behind Shake Rattle and Roll but his lyrics were deemed inappropriate, allowing Bill Haley to cash in with a “cleaner” version (but one that’s still too misogynistic for 21st century ears). Then it’s New York for uptown soul and the growth of Motown where the humble tambourine supersedes the drum as the keeper of the beat – listen to the Temptations What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted for a great example.
Philadelphia or “Philly” soul created a sharper, more sophisticated sound, with swirling strings, sweeping bass lines and an all new drum beat, four-on-the-floor, from Earl Young – the basis of disco and electronic dance music. Throw in songs from John Lee Hooker, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett and others and the result is an hour crackling with energy.
These boys have been playing together for nigh on forty years and really know their stuff. Musicianship is top notch, segues are both informative and funny and the whole show fizzes with noise and energy. What’s not to like! Highly recommended.