A taste of the Big Apple – without the crowds

The Spin Doctors

The Spin Doctors

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The Spin Doctors

Burnley Mechanics

A little taste of the Big Apple came to Lancashire on Thursday night, as The Spin Doctors played their only date in Northern England.

Chris Barron and his band-mates are touring their most recent long player, If The River Was Whiskey, a riotous return to their blues roots.

And 20-plus years after stealing British hearts with Pocket Full of Kryptonite, there was proof – if needed – that this was far more than a retro band still dining out on the success of a few early 90s hits.

True enough that the joint was jumping when they treated us to Jimmy Olsen Blues, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, What Time Is It? and Two Princes, but there was a rightful reverence for the newer material too.

What’s more, this four-piece are intrinsically likeable – as proved by the way they mingled with the fans afterwards. No rock star stand-off here.

This was a perfect-sized venue. The only problem was that the gig was pretty poorly attended.

It was far from empty, but they deserved a sell-out.

All the better for those of us who made the effort though, and this New York City outfit certainly didn’t give anything less than their best.

Sublime guitarist Eric Schenkman’s fingers were a blur at times, chopping out those chords and solos, Chris at his side pulling the faces that went with the shapes.

Aaron Comess, behind his drum kit, and Mark White, effortlessly cool on bass, drove the show perfectly, and had their own starring spots under the lights too.

Then there was Chris’ wondrous bluesy voice, a livewire with a doctorate in yoga and the kind of leg elasticity that suggests he could be on ice and snow in Sochi this week.

When I got home I reminded myself how they looked back in ‘91. Yeah, they’re a little older, but no less youthful and inspired, and raunchy rhythm and blues never ages.

Between songs, Chris recalled his formative years in Australia, watching UK TV hits like Dr Who and The Goodies.

And he told us he’d been saying ‘ecky thump’ all day, since tackling a black pudding for breakfast.

There were a few other surprises, not least an assured version of The Beatles’ I Want You (She’s So Heavy).

Someone passed up their Norwegian-style woolly ski hat so Chris could roll back the years for Two Princes, followed by a mighty jam before a return for a show-stopping Scotch and Water Blues and stonking Yo Mama’s A Pajama.

And hopefully next time they return to the North-West, we’ll be jostling for space, whatever the venue.

Malcolm Wyatt