‘This isn’t a career move,’ said Bill Wyman as he strolled onto the stage to start the show. ‘Just me and a bunch of my mates playing the music we like and we want you to enjoy it with us.’
With the Guild Hall barely half full, the evening became more of an informal night out at the local pub, with none of the sterile atmosphere of an arena, and this somehow made it more special.
There was lots of banter with the audience from the band, who were obviously having a ball, and what a great variety of music they played.
The show opened with loquacious pianist Geraint Watkins (ex-Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile) leading on Amos Milburn’s ‘Chicken Shack’, then on came Beverley Skeete to sing Arthur Conley’s ‘Sweet Soul Music’.
Next up, the legendary Albert Lee delivered a skiffle take on ‘Muleskinner Blues’ and the athletic Frank Mead sang and played harmonica on Little Walter’s ‘Just Your fool’.
All in all we got 26 numbers varying from Chicago Blues, Country Blues, Soul, R&B, Boogie and Jump Jive to Rock’n’Roll (Terry Taylor singing Gene Vincent’s ‘Race with the Devil’), Folk (Dylan’s ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’) and a strange trad. version of ‘Johnny B. Goode’.
Her latest album is her 40th and Maira Muldaur showed what a distinctive voice she has in a set ranging from her big hit, ‘Midnight At The Oasis’, to Mississippi John Hurt’s ‘Richland Woman’s Blues’ plus a duet with Albert Lee on The Everly Brothers’ ‘Crying in the Rain’, reminding us that Albert toured with the Everlys in their prime.
Georgie Fame was missing from the band, sadly in hospital with pneumonia, but with Frank Mead and Nick Payn having a battle of the saxes and Graham Broad on drums, you knew you were in the company of some of the most accomplished musicians of their generation.
At 77, and looking like a more hirsute version of Woody Allen, Bill Wyman contented himself to stand quietly at the back for most of the show, strumming his bass contentedly.
At the very end, for the final encore, he led a great version of Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell’ (‘The man’s a nasty piece of work,’ smiled Wyman, ‘but he writes a good song’).
A wonderful end to an uplifting night out.