After a short break four musicians took to the stage who, over the course of the following hour, would put on one of the tightest and most impressive performances I’ve ever seen.
Led by Norman Watt-Roy the band ran through a set taking in jazz-fusion numbers alongside their own versions of Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ classics and a few originals as well.
While Norman was undeniably the centre of attention and the leader of his band as he played his custom Fender bass in a way that no other can, seemingly being one with his instrument as his fingers danced on the strings and frets, the other three members all shone as well.
Particularly impressive were saxophone and accordion player, as well as occasional vocalist, Gilad Atzmon and drummer Asaf Sirkis.
Atzmon used effects to give an extra tone to the already fantastic sax playing and worked most closely with Norman in putting on the show and really making a strong connection with the audience in a way few musicians at any level manage.
Sirkis meanwhile was a technical drumming marvel as he switched from the pseudo-funk of the Blockheads numbers, through frankly amazing jazz-fusion work, to solid and R’n'B style beats with seemingly effortless ease and a huge smile, though he wasn’t alone as all four members seemed to be enjoying the gig hugely.
They weren’t alone in that though as the crowd was packed to the front throughout Norman’s set with many moving, how anyone could stand still to such insistent rhythms is unknown to me, and for those in the crowd who were fellow musicians we could only look on in wonder at the playing on stage.
If the atmosphere was high during the set it shot up even further as Norman Watt-Roy welcomed long time collaborator Wilko Johnson to the stage. With his unique guitar playing added to the mix the band’s sound developed further, taking on a more R’n'B vibe but still with a hint of the jazz and funk from earlier in the set so a couple of Wilko’s own tunes were given the Norman Watt-Roy treatment before the band ended their set.
They weren’t off stage long though before they were called back for an encore which rook the form of an extended version of Dr. Feelgood classic Roxette that reached a crescendo for an already amazing night.
The band left the stage with the promise that they would be back soon and with the crowd calling for more – much like Wilko’s gig here earlier in the year there was a bittersweet feeling that this might be the last time we get to see him in the flesh on a Guernsey stage but, if it was, what a way to go, and it feels like he’s passed his torch to Norman Watt-Roy, a man with an already formidable reputation, playing with one of the best bands I have ever had the pleasure to see in such intimate surroundings.
And all that’s not forgetting Attila The Stockbroker – I’m not sure a better night of varied musical entertainment could ever be had whether by happenstance or by design as this one.
Touring with Norman Watt Roy’s Faith & Grace Tour
17 SUDBURY Quay Theatre
18+19. GUERNSEY Fermaine Tavern 20 WORCESTER Marr's Bar
22 KINGS HEATH Hare and Hounds
24 PUTNEY Half Moon
26 TUNBRIDGE WELLS Forum
27 SHEFFIELD Greystones
29 WATFORD The Horns
30 BOLTON The Railway
31 POOLE Mr. Kyp's
01 BIDEFORD Palladium
03 PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
07 DERBY Flowerpot
08 NEWTON ABBOTT Seale Hayne
09 WATCHETT Mineral Line
14 SWINDON The Vic
21st November, Gilad Atzmon 20 Years in Britain, London Jazz Festival, special concert at Queen Elizabeth Concert Hall, London South Bank.
20 years after landing in the UK, saxophonist and composer Gilad Atzmon has become an intensely creative presence on the European scene, whether leading successive editions of his Orient House Ensemble, developing new work for string quartet alongside interpretations of the evocative Charlie Parker with strings project, or playing with the Blockheads and Robert Wyatt.
This concert offers a journey through Gilad’s varied musical activity, including some very special collaborations.