Gig Review and Photography by Drew Kirkland

Roger Chapman

‘Back from Retirement’ claimed the billing. Not normally a selling point for Rock’n’Roll, but when Roger Chapman’s involved, it’s worth taking a bit of notice.

Roger ChapmanRoger Chapman

It must be 4 decades since I first saw Chappo (on what turned out to be Family’s last tour) and (full disclosure). I’ve been a fanboy since (through the Streetwalkers & Shortlist eras).

Roger Chapman
Roger ChapmanRoger Chapman

You know what you’re getting into with his band’s; tight rhythms, musicians who (you feel) are having fun playing together and one of the greatest English (as he mentioned, on the eve of the referendum) blues voices ever. And he’s got a big songbook to pull from.

Roger Chapman

Anyway… The band opened up (at full-tilt) with ‘Prisoner’, then into ‘Sweet Vanilla’ before we hit the first old Family song. ‘Top of the Hill’ is less frenetic, and gives everyone a chance to draw breath, before it’s heads down again for ‘Jukebox Mama’ and the Nor’leans syncopated funk of ‘Sweet Desirée’ (well worth another listen – although I’m not sure pensioners should be singing about’… Tears running down my thighs’). Time to mention the band. Gary Twigg on bass and John Lingwood on drums are a rock-solid rhythm section. Paul Hirsch on keyboards and Geoff Whitehorn on guitar filled things out, and Nick Payn swapped around sax, flute, harp and (sometimes) percussion. They all know what they’re doing.

Roger Chapman

‘Who Pulled the Night Down On Me’ was next, a rolling, funky groove (which resurfaced at various points of the night) before a couple of newer tracks – ‘Easy Train’ and ‘Crosstown’. Then everything slowed for a stunning, stretched-out version of Dylan’s ‘Blind Willie McTell’. Then it’s time for ‘Burlesque’, one of the funkiest grooves EVER. Your feet can’t help but shuffle around, even if (like me) you’re a bit of an ageing hippy.

Roger Chapman

‘Son of Red Room’ followed (which includes a slugful of ’16 Tons’). Chappo likes to give value, and his encores usually deliver it and there’s usually an element of singalong. We’re given a surprisingly heavy version of ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’, before the compulsive (and rather Kafkaesque) ‘Everybody’s On The Shortlist’ (which became ‘everybody’s on the statins’ for one chorus, in deference to the age of both band and audience).

Roger ChapmanRoger Chapman

Then, to finish up, the exquisite ‘My Friend the Sun’. Which leaves everyone with a smile on their face. Ok, some of the high notes may not be there anymore but Chappo can still put a helluva band (and a helluva show) together.

The Mentulls

Support tonight came from band The Mentulls comprise brothers Andrew on guitar and Jamie on keyboards Pipe, together with Drummer Nick Colman.

The Mentulls

The Mentulls

The band is a showcase for Andrew’s accomplished guitar work, and their cited influences include Focus, Gary Moore and Wishbone Ash – so you can expect unapologetic set-piece prog-rock guitar performances (not that that is a bad thing). Jamie fills out bass lines on his keyboards. Opening with ‘Silver Bird’, the band continued with ‘Motorway Of Madness’ and the moody, Focus-influenced ‘Reflections’.

The MentullsThe Mentulls

Things got a bit more rocky with ‘Be Home Tonight’, before the Lister-ish strut of ‘On the Road Again’. Next up is a medley of Philip Sayce instrumentals, starting off with a slow blues, (‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’, I think) before shifting into a far more progrock track. This was probably the only point in the set when a bassist was really missed. The band closed with Jack Bruce’s ‘Theme from an Imaginary Western’, before quickly referencing the riff from Yes’ ‘Starship Trooper’.

The Mentulls

2 Responses to “Roger Chapman + The Mentulls at The Robin 2, Bilston, UK – 17th September 2014”

  1. Roger Chapman at The Robin, Bilston - Drew Kirkland : Photography Says:

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  2. Drew Kirkland : Photography : Roger Chapman at The Robin, Bilston Says:

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