Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sun 27 Jul 2014
- Henry Northmore
- 1 August 2014
This article is from 2014
The former Rolling Stone heads up what might be the best covers band on the circuit
The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival brings another big name to the city to finish off the fest in style. But before Bill Wyman takes to the stage Glasgow blues belter Maggie Bell warms up the crowd with her deep and earthy vocals. Mixing Etta James ('I'd Rather Go Blind') and Tom Waits ('Way Down in a Hole' as made famous by The Wire) covers with her own material from her time on Atlantic Records and plenty of cheeky Maryhill patter. Overflowing with passion her set ends with an inspired mash-up of 'Respect Yourself' which segues into (a very appropriate) 'Papa Was a Rollin' Stone' then morphs into Kylie's 'Can't Get You Out of My Head.'
Then Wyman strolls on. A nonchalant performer, after introducing the band he fades into the background. The former Rolling Stones bassist is the marquee name to attract the crowds but is incredibly subdued on stage. However Wyman has surrounded himself with some outstanding musicians. Tonight's special guest is Average White Band singer and guitarist, Hamish Stuart bolstering the line-up to nine. Saxophonist Frank Mead is a magnetic stage presence, the joker of band with some crazy dance moves and some surprisingly sharp vocals. Geraint Watkins adds even more humour, adding rambling intros and gruff vocals to Howlin' Wolf's '300 Pounds of Joy' and his jazzy piano-led reworking of 'Johnny B Goode'. Vocalist Beverly Skeete proves she has an amazing set of pipes throughout the night and particularly on a barnstorming rendition of 'I Put a Spell on You.' It all adds up to perhaps the best covers band on the circuit, all total professionals, putting on a night of classics, audience favourites and real blues. Even Wyman steps up to the mic for the final song, his voice might not be as strong as the others but it's great to finally see him animated as he runs through a Buddy Holly cover.