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Bebop Spoken There

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Mike Farris @ Live Theatre, Newcastle - Jan 16

Mike Farris (vocals, guitar); Mike Outram (guitar, vocals); Steve ? (organ, vocals); ? (bass guitar, vocals); Ron Johnson ? (drums).
(Review by Russell)

Mike Farris is in the middle of a sold out British tour and Live Theatre, just off Newcastle Quayside, greeted the man from Tennessee as if a returning hero. And, in some ways, that is what the American was having previously performed in Ashington in Northumberland. A contingent of avid fans led the cheerleading and from first note to last Farris held the sold out audience in the palm of his hand.

Farris' band on this Newcastle date included ace jazz guitarist Mike Outram in blues-soul mode and a short notice dep drummer who slotted in as if a long-time sideman. Cuts from Farris' new album Silver & Stone and a selection from an extensive back catalogue together with one or two surprise choices were delivered in a more hard-hitting style than anticipated. A lack of horns and dedicated backing vocalists perhaps dictated affairs; the gospel-infused vocals were in evidence but a rockier vibe hit the audience for six. 

The intro to Snap Your Fingers received raptuorus applause (the band providing the backing vocals), Tom Petty's Swingin' found favour with the Newcastle audience and Let Me Love You Baby found favour with your reviewer - 24 carat Tennessee soul! Smokin' Hammond-like licks, funking bass lines and killer drumming freed Farris to bound across the stage variously singing a sweet soul lyric, a hollerin' blues and an uplifting gospel number. A particular highlight of a memorable performance found Farris singing Mary Gauthier's Mercy Now. Mercy, yes indeed!

The engaging Farris talked about his current travels; Guildford, Wales, discovering Andy Fairweather Low (Live Theatre's audience sang him a few lines from Wide Eyed and Legless) and being amazed by Rod Argent's songwriting abilities (She's Not There). Farris signed-off with Ann Peebles' I Can't Stand the Rain. A standing ovation suggested our American visitor will be back before long.         

Earlier Chris James (guitar, vocals) and Martin Fletcher (harmonica, vocals) entertained for forty five minutes or so. An attraction in their own right, James and Fletcher are no strangers to the Jumpin' Hot Club audience and, sure enough, good natured banter in the form of withering insults flew to and fro between the duo. Much of the set featured Chris James' material (Angel in the Mirror impressing) alongside one or two classic blues numbers by the likes of Robert Johnson and Jimmy Yancey.   

At the end of the evening Mike Farris graciously took time to talk to a long line of fans waiting patiently to purchase a signed copy of a CD or t-shirt. Mike Farris is the real deal.
Russell

1 comment :

Lance said...

Wide Eyed and Legless - a great tune and She's Not There an even better one! The Zombies were a great group and harmonically way ahead of the other pop groups of the sixties - much jazzier.

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