11 December 2012 (gig)
18 December 2012
Just as rumours emerged that South London blues-rock misfits The Peckham Cowboys had decided to ride into the ether, a change of heart saw them return to town – eager to get displayed amongst the Most Wanted gallery of booze rock rogues.
In addition, an impressive new line-up enhances the gang’s already existing rock ‘n’ roll credibility, padding out the hole that the departure of founder member Guy Bailey (ex-Quireboys) had left in the saddle.
The new members are fellow ex-Quireboy Nigel Mogg on bass, former Dogs D’Amour / Ian Hunter Band legend Darrell Bath on lead and slide guitar, and – for that certain razzle-dazzle - ex-Primal Screamer Duncan Mackay on piano and trumpet. New kid on the block Ryan MacCormick on drums completes the circle of newcomers. Well well, dudes and dudettes… how impressive is that?!
As for the original members, I’m happy to report that super talented frontman Marc Eden seems more on top of his game than ever before, while rhythm guitarist Dale Hodgkinson sets a contrast by being the more quiet one of the lot, totally emerged in caressing his instrument. But you know the saying ‘quiet rivers run deep’, right?
And so, after an opening slot by The Gasoline Queens, the newly reformed Peckham Cowboys took to the stage ‘With The Good Lord’s Permission’, to demonstrate they are an ever growing force amongst all that’s honkin’ and stonkin’! Yes, their trademark sleaze-rock groove was still fairly prominent, but thanks to Duncan Mackay and Darrell Bath, some inspired boogie-woogie piano and blues-hued bottleneck sounds took each track to a different level. Sly and wry, and oh so fine, and that also goes for the trumpet!
After the first number, the band went straight into ‘She Do The Twist & Twirl’. The song seemed more refined than on previous occasions I’d heard it performed live, while Eden’s speedy singing gave the impression he must be on amphetamines. “Brothers and sisters, boys and girls, are ya alright? Everybody having a drink?” he asked, before telling a story about a week in Morocco titled ‘A Week In Larache’. The infectious rhythm of the number - emphasized by Eden’s gravely voice - gets me every time.
This being Nambucca in North London, it was only fair for them Cowboys to perform their weirdly chaotic and oddly distorted ‘South London Thing’. They did just that while throwing in some fun antics and tuned-in/tuned-out interaction. In particular Nigel Mogg wiggled from one side of the stage to the other, working his bass to perfection and looking like a mischievous rock ‘n’ roll incarnation of Mr. Scratch in ‘The Devil & Daniel Webster’. Mind you, this being a rather small stage, there wasn’t much to wiggle about.
‘Ain't That Somethin' turned out to be something very cool indeed. Great guitar and bass licks, heartfelt singing and simply a blistering tune – old school blues ‘n’ roll of the finest cut, interspersed with some ace guitar solos. Yea-ah!
I said it before and I say it again (and sure it wasn’t the last time): I’m a total sucker for ‘Crackhouse Blues’ – my favourite Peckham Cowboys number to this day! To my delight, the band performed it seedier and more blues-orientated than ever. You really could imagine yourself transported into some dingy hellhole somewhere in the Deep South, dabbling in voodoo and other dangers. Darrell Bath’s slide guitar playing was utterly formidable and so beautiful in fact, I almost cried tears of joy watching him doing his thing. And then there was Eden’s harmonica in between his singing, though I call it raw emotion. Sooo very godam orgasmic, easily the highlight of the set!
During ‘Painkillers’, the entire bunch played not only for the audience but seemingly for each other and at each other. Eden partly slurring and speaking the lyrics, to nice effect, broke up the fast pace and upbeat rhythm of the song.
Duncan Mackay had ample opportunity to show off his boogie-woogie piano skills during ‘Rock n Roll Star’, while crooner Eden expressed that the song’s title kinda refers to glam rock star Marc Bolan. Mr. Eden, you got taste! All the while and during Mackay’s piano spiel, the Peckham frontman danced the Bolan Boogie combined with his very own honky-tonk steps. No crisis of confidence whatsoever, and so it should be.
The final song of the night turned out to be the Stooges cover ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and naturally, the vibe shifted from blues-sleaze to downright durrty and gritty, not to mention hardcore. It all seemed to go on forever as well, with Eden growling like a dog, then turning toward MacCormick and demanding “Give it to me, c’mon on, give it to me!” Hitting away like possessed, the drummer boy readily obliged. Upping the frenzy, punters (including yours truly) were pulled onto stage to join in and sing and dance (or let their pants down!), and for the roaring climax, Nigel Mogg decided to fall into the drum kit, thus bring an end to the mayhem.
“Come and see us again, and spread the word”, shouted Marc Eden swiftly, before pointing out copies of the band’s excellent album ‘Flog It!’ were on sale in the foyer.
I, for one, can’t wait to come and see the band again – the sooner the better!