Norman and his band started with a R ‘n’ B number, a great version of ‘My Baby’s Got The Blues’; as ever Norman Beaker and his band provided the perfect backdrop for Chris; demonstrating why they are so popular and reflected in the packed house at the Beaufort ballroom where this was a road trip of nostalgia for many, with music from their youth.
The first set was a great mix of blues and Rock n’ Roll including Little Milton’s ‘Ain’t No Big deal On You’; a song penned especially for him by Mike D’Abo’s ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ for many the definitive version! Chris and Norman provided plenty of banter between numbers, engaging the audience and ensuring that this was wall-to-wall entertainment. They slowed the tempo down with great lead breaks from Norman and his guitar that suited this arrangement of ‘It’s Tough on Me, It’s Tough On You’ The band was a tight cohesive unit with their individual sounds shining through, Dave Baldwin on keys, provided a stylish melding into the guitar chords giving a depth of tone, and when released he gave the band, along with the superb saxophonist, Kim Nishikawara, a delightful alternative to guitar lead breaks that with some other artists can on occasions can become tedious and appear to be fillers of time. This is never the case with The Norman Beaker Band who use every moment to prove why Blues, Rock and Rock N’ Roll are timeless and never boring but a mix of tones, tempos and musical textures. The Rhythm section is the strong backbone of this band provided by John Price (Bass) and Steve Gibson (Drums) who may be in the background but they enable everyone else to soar to the heights and create the sound that had everyone’s feet a tapping and singing along with pure enjoyment.
The evening was a master class of what made the music of the sixties so fabulous including Chris Farlowe’s awesome arrangement if John Lee Hooker’s, ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ which wowed the audience as they drew breath collectively; and the audience participation during Small Faces ‘All Or Nothing’ was enjoyed by all and by now Chris had the crowd eating out of his hand with is witty asides, banter and above all his voice. Towards the end of the second set to everyone’s delight ‘Out of Time’ who everyone associates with Chris Farlowe, this was Number 1 in the charts when England won the World Cup in 1966, had everyone singing along creating a great atmosphere that is synonymous with live music of this excellence.
Popular demand will surely see Chris Farlowe & The Norman Beaker Beaker Band back, as they show no sign of wanting to stop gigging and ‘The Voice’ is as strong as ever to hold the audience spellbound once again with every note, gesture and every song of this very difficult act to follow!