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Leo Green at the 100 Club

28 April 2000

This review was originally written for the jools@yahoogroups.com mailing list.

Leo poster -- click for larger versionWe arrived at the 100 Club at the ridiculously early time of 8 o'clock. After observing a few unsuccessful attempts to gain early entry, we elected to wait on the stairs and browse the programmes and posters of upcoming events, including a visit from another recent JHRBO member in the shape of Pete Long and his Duke Ellington tribute band (Tuesday 2nd May). We listened as the band had their final rehearsal / sound check until eventually some 100 Club staff came to start letting us in - seemingly surprised to find what was by then quite a considerable queue.

We went on down into the club and picked out a table close to the stage, but off at one corner behind the piano. The background music started off with some gentle jazz classics, but as the noise levels rose the styles changed and we headed increasingly more towards stuff that would have been right at home in the soundtrack of Mission Impossible or The Man From UNCLE. Just as we were expecting David Macallum to come running by and freeze-frame while his name appeared, Bruce Willis look-alike Alan Darby took to the stage, picked up his guitar and our wait (it was now nearly 10 o'clock) was finally over.

Alan launched into the riff of the Peter Gunn Theme and gradually one-by-one the other band members dribbled onto the stage. Winston, the bass player, was next up and was soon joined by piano, drums, scratch DJ and the instantly recognisable Mick Talbot poised at the organ. I'm sure many of you will remember Mick from the 1998 "Best Of..." JHRBO tour (when Chris Holland was recording). Last up was trumpeter Matt Holland, who encouraged the audience with shouts of "Where's Leo?" as saxophone strains began to be heard in the absence of any evident source. The audience started to look around, and soon Leo made his appearance, playing as he came, wearing shades and oozing style. One unobservant lady got a particular shock as she was alerted to Leo's presence by a blast of sax in her ear. On he went, flirting and dancing with the audience until he wound his way onto stage.

The guitarist got a chance to shine early on with some classic electric blues in the style of BB King. Twice during the evening we were shaken by the funky rumblings of a solo from Winston and his (5-string!) bass. The scratch DJ was astonishingly good, fitting very well into the band. The was evidently an excellent rapport between all the band members and an overwhelming feeling of spontaneity, Leo periodically pouncing on the others and challenging them to musical duels.

The guest vocalist shone, taking to the stage for a couple of songs, and other highlights of the evening included a sizzling harmonica solo in a guest appearance from a member of the next night's band, Blue Harlem. During part of one song, Leo displaced the pianist, playing with his characteristically explosive energy - but with less accuracy, splashing out fistfuls of notes to wild applause.

To the strains of "You Can't Always Get What You Want," Leo proved that he could get at least some of what he wanted by packing the stage with female members of the audience giving the evening more the feeling of a party than a concert.

Indeed, so enjoyable was the atmosphere that we chose to miss the last train home in order to stay until the end, wandering the streets of London in a daze until the trains started running again this morning.

David & Alex, 29 April 2000


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