Deke Leonard's Iceberg

The Kite Club - Blackpool

Friday 7 October 2005

IcebergThere have been just a few small changes to the Kite Club since my last visit - a lick of paint, some wallhangings, new seats, but the essential ambience remains. While the rest of Blackpool panders to stag and hen nights and retailing alcohol to people who have already had plenty and are old enough to know better, downstairs at the Station remains a bolt hole for those seeking decent live music on the Fylde coast.

The band all looked in good humour, especially Brian Breeze - which made it all the more promising since it was only his second show with this version of Iceberg, Clive Roberts unfortunately being unwell. There was quite a lot of banter before the music started, mainly aimed at George W Bush and his less than perfect ways with the English language.

Ride kicked things off, ("a Man song, but I wrote it"), with Brian taking the main solo - though without a slide. In fact he never used one all night, but no one seemed to take offence.

There were further reminiscences about old song titles, jams named after commentators - Frank Bough and the like, though the next song, Fools like me, is far towards the other end of the musical spectrum. Brian again took the solo, but interestingly, it seemed to have nothing in common with the recorded version.

Razorblade is a real gem from Deke's back catalogue, and the dual guitars of Leonard and Breeze were truly scintillating here. They weren't entirely together, but pretty damn close. Deke muttered something about Ike Turner fining his band for making mistakes, but I think they probably had more rehearsal time than this version of Iceberg.

Bring it on Home was slow and deliberate, while Get off the Line was busting with energy; Map of India had an extended intro which just might have been to make sure everyone knew where they were going, and I thought Will's bass playing here was very inventive. Alas, another potential fine was threatened as the ending didn't quite go according to plan, but despite that, it was very well received. Quite right too.

Brian was throwing out a whole slew of inventive licks during Tahitian Thunder, and as you'd expect, Bob's drumming was well to the fore and wonderful on this one. Deke got a couple of lines the wrong way round in the lyrics, and no further mention of the Ike Turner remuneration system was made all night.

The best reception of the night was saved for 7171, and it's easy to see why. The Youatt-Richards rhythm section was tight and forceful, and there was yet more breathtaking soloing from Brian Breeze. By the time Daughter came round, the entire band was in rampant, unstoppable form.

After a short break they returned. Once onstage, there was a short pause as Deke decided what they were going to do and passed this on to his colleagues. As on a few other occasions during the evening, he had to check everyone knew what key to play in. In Search of Sarah was taken at a leisurely, almost languid pace, but the interplay between the two guitars during the soloing was superb. Deke's Tele was a bit low in the mix, and perhaps didn't have the same sonic oomph of Brian's Strat, but it was a joy to see them trading riffs. Hard Way to Live was its usual short and sweet self, and Biran Breeze was loving every minute of it.

Indeed, that was what stood out most for me - Brian never stopped smiling all night. His playing was animated and busy and he never seemed to be at a loss what to play - even when it might not have been what Deke was expecting. Will started off a little subdued, but he too got more lively as the night went on, and his playing was flawless. Bob Richards was Bob Richards, which is as much as we have come to expect.

The set was shorter than at Walthamstow, but I assume this was down to lack of rehearsal time. They may not have had much time to practise together, but they more than made up for it in enthusiasm. A terrific gig.

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