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the Pale

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Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

6 May 2001: Stavanger, Norway

Geir Flatøe in Stavanger Aftenblad, 7 May 2001
Rating 9 out of 10

The sports cliché "a team victory" has seldom applied to anything better than to Bill Wyman and his ten team players on the Bjergsted-field yesterday night.

Some people might shake their heads in disbelief over the 9/10 rating. They would be ones who came only to experience Bill Wyman, former Rolling Stones bass player, as they are bound to feel miffed by an elderly gentleman keeping himself in the background all the time. When the concert was over – almost two hours long – only Wyman and the drummer had not been soloists.

And that's why it was so good. Wyman was never a central point in Rolling Stones, but a steady bass-player with a cool smile and a relaxed attitude. He still is. It also looks as if he is enjoying himself doing what he does.: it can scarcely be the money that makes him go out on the road.

Pure star team
For this year's tour he has collected a star team. Wyman himself is aptly in the background in the middle of the stage, and his stage-show is confined to lighting cigarettes. By why should he do more, when each side he has two of the business's most eclectic keyboard players?

On his left wing, Wyman has placed Gary Brooker. And to those of us that have grown up with Procol Harum, this is a rare gift. His right wing is occupied by Georgie Fame, a legend for the 60s' swinging London.

Between these two you find Janice Hoyte and Beverley Skeeter [sic], two black female singers with unbelievable voices and a long record. You find Graham Broad, who has played drums with everyone from The Drifters to the Beach Boys and Stevie Wonder. You find the horns of Frank Mead and Nick Payn, who have played with more world names that we have room to mention. And you find the country star Albert Lee, Jazz ace Martin Taylor and Wyman's old buddy Terry Taylor. So why should Wyman need to have the spotlight turned on himself?

Problems for the boss
On the stage he is almost self-destructively passive, yet when his amplifier broke down after the opening number, Let The Good Times Roll, you suddenly understand who's the boss, after all. Usually a bass-player with sound problems would just receive an irritated look from the lead singer; but now suddenly the whole concert came to a halt. Sound people came running forward, fellow-musicians came to see, and Georgie Fame and Martin Taylor covered the chaos by performing a spontaneous version of Georgia on My Mind.

The bass sound is back, and the show continues. Fame, Brooker, Lee, Hoyte and Skeeter [sic] share out the vocals on songs such as Melody, Any Way The Wind Blows, Hole In The Wall, I Put A Spell On You, Love Letters, Keep Your Shirt On and Breakin' Up The House. Something new, something old.

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings has a playful groove to their songs. The vocal performances are excellent, the backing is tight and aggressive. The sax players dance. Georgie Fame does his train impressions. Gary Brooker smiles and laughs, and Martin Taylor and Albert Lee play four hands to one guitar. It's just plain fun.

Classic Encore
The band says their goodbyes, and the audience stands up spontaneously. Standing ovations, until Wyman walks on stage again and declares he is too shy to sing himself, or to try a bass solo, but maybe we'd like to hear Gary Brooker play A Whiter Shade of Pale? We would! Wyman lights a cigarette and sits on his chair to listen – him as well! And the venerable, white-haired Gary Brooker plays A Whiter Shade of Pale.

The performance is as special, intense and unearthly beautiful as you could ever hope for.

trans. Ravnaas / Clare

Order the single Love Letters from Amazon UK

Order this CD from Amazon UK

Rhythm Kings: 1998 tour, 1999 tour, 2000 tour, 2001 tour. For other 2001 dates, see the Bill Wyman website

More Rhythm Kings information here

Wyman / Brooker interview excerpts here.

Bill Wyman talks to Record Collector about Gary Brooker

Rhythm Kings on record

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