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Wilko Johnson Band/John Cooper Clarke: Royal Albert Hall, London, 26th September 2017

liz medhurst
Words: Liz Medhurst Photos: Laurence Harvey
4th October 2017

wilko johnson

Wilko Johnson packed out the Royal Albert Hall and there was much to celebrate. Officially the event was to mark his 70th birthday earlier this year, after recovery from a once terminal cancer diagnosis, and this year also sees the thirty-five year anniversary of the Wilko Johnson band, formed after leaving Dr Feelgood.

Main support tonight was from John Cooper Clarke who is always a fantastic draw live. We were treated to his dry Salford tones, at times phlegmatically delivered but always so profound. His act is just as good as it ever was and has matured but thankfully not softened.

A mixture of poetry and stand-up, there were alternate belly laughs and weighty reflective moments with stories about how he tried to hire a butler, and poems including 'Get Back On Drugs You Fat Fuck' and 'Beasley Street'.

From punk meets poetry to punk meets pub rock, the Wilko Johnson Band packed a setlist with gems encompassing Dr Feelgood and Solid Senders as well as his solo material.

Backed up by current and former Blockheads Norman Watt Roy and Dylan Howe, the rhythm section added jazzy notes and grooves while retaining the raw and aggressive notes of the material.

wilko johnson

All three have been touched by ill health and bereavement in recent times and tonight was a display of living life to the full, giving it their all, grabbing life in the moment. This performance was filled not with urgency, but vibrancy.

But even without the drama surrounding it, the art itself has earned the celebrations in its own right. It was all here – the fiery percussive notes, the ferocious stare, rollicking blues, the duck walk.

It's hardly mellowed with age and the energy flying around could put bands half their age to shame. The Royal Albert Hall may be an impossibly grand setting for pub rock, but it was fitting and earned its place here.

wilko johnson

Two encores brought the crowd to their feet, up and dancing to 'Bye Bye Johnny' and 'Route 66', John Cooper Clarke guesting on guitar for the former. On this showing it looks like there is still plenty more to come from Wilko – one more reason to celebrate.

All Right
If You Want Me, You've Got Me
Dr Dupree
Going Back Home
Sneaking Suspicion
Keep On Loving You
When I'm Gone
Everybody's Carrying A Gun
Some Kind Of Hero
She's Good Like That
Back In The Night
She Does It Right

Bye Bye Johnny
Route 66

wilko johnson

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monsters of rock

Monsters Of Rock In Full Flight is strictly limited to 300 worldwide and is available from 30th November but those ordering before 31st October will have their name published within a dedicated page in the book.

It's a deluxe 128 page hardback book in a metal flight case with a narrative by Jerry Bloom.

When promoter Paul Loasby put on the first Monsters Of Rock Festival in 1980 he could probably never have imagined it would become an annual event that would endure for so many years.

Featuring bands from the UK, Germany, Canada and USA, Loasby chose to stage the event at the Donington race circuit in the middle of England and it would prove to be a defining moment for many of the bands on the bill.

Not least for headliners Rainbow as it was the their last ever show to feature drum legend Cozy Powell. As it would happen it turned out to be the last for vocalist Graham Bonnet as well. For many of the other bands on the bill such as Scorpions, Judas Priest and Saxon, they were all on the ascendancy and would soon go on to even greater success.

Now in celebration of this first ever Monsters Of Rock Festival comes this hardback book full of glorious photos of the bands that took to the stage for that inaugural event including back stage shots. Most of these shots have not been published before which add to the uniqueness of this deluxe 128-page book which is packaged in its own flight case.

Also included are stories surrounding the event with tales and recollections from those who were there, including artists and fans alike. Each book will be signed by the author. The 300 will sell fast and definitely go on to become collector's items so order yours now right here to avoid disappointment.


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