Stevie brings his ‘new’ band to a tiny rural village in North Leicestershire for a night of ‘Stevie’ in their diminutive, but tidy, village hall.
The Trio, now a quartet since having young Dave Devlin on guitar duties as Stevie fell off his push bike whilst cycling with his children last year. It has failed to heal so now there is talk of it being pinned sometime in the future, when a break in touring (sic) allows that is.
This evening features his new line up of:
Dave Devlin on guitars,
Kelpie McKenzie on bass (Matt Beable is currently touring with Sari Schorr),
Craig ‘Crispy’ Bacon on drums
And the ever-youthful Stevie Nimmo on vocals.
Playing to a small room of only 90 fans is always a challenge but as Stevie says it’s also humbling as the fans have given up a Saturday night to come and see him do his thing.
Starting the 90-minute set off with Roll the Dice Again sees Devlin show the gathered crowd that he doesn’t lack anything in the guitar department. His Strat is crisp as it growls out the trademark riff that’s the back bone of this opener. Nimmo’s voice is sweet, slightly gentler than his little brother Alan (of King King fame). Devlin gives the solo a good seeing-to, it’s as if Stevie is channelling himself through the young lad, as he dad dances centre stage with his eyes closed, the big grin on his face never faltering for a moment, and then it’s back to the singing.
Crispy keeping the back solid with his ever-smiling face, sometimes eyes closed as he knocks out a powerhouse of fills, smiling at Stevie and Kelpie as he knocks some sense into the crash cymbals.
We’re now cracking through Still Hungry, again, from the Sky Won’t Fall album. Devlin’s guitar is sounding sharp as he hits the wah wah and shows that he may be young but he’s got a mature touch. Wearing his now trademark baseball cap he takes care of what he’s doing more than posing, an admirable thing as this is his first proper outing as an all grow’d up guitarist. The solid jangly tones ring out as we go into Running on Back to You strikes out. This is pne of my favourite Stevie tracks, soulful and delicate, the solo kicks in with its subtle highs and lows, key changes and screaming melody, Devlin makes it his own. This youngster has certainly done his homework.
Change follows, with a slightly different tempo and a softer lyric. This is Stevie at his best, the control he has on his voice is sublime. Considering not so long back it was doubtful he’d even get his voice back, what has turned up is a mellow spread of honey coated words that caress and soothe.
No Stevie gig is complete without a few covers and tonight is no exception we get Good Day for The Blues a cover of the Storyville classic. Stevie tells how he was lucky enough to record this with the guys, telling tales of how they set their kit up to get the sound to an amused audience. That’s followed with an unusual one from Eric Clapton called River of Tears from Clapton’s Pilgrim album released in 1998. A lovely typical Clapton intro to the song is handled by the young pretender, Stevie’s voice is delicate and soft giving the words the respect they’re due. Feeling each word, the crowd are silent in awe!
After Chains of Hope and Loving we have the third cover, Gamblers Roll featuring as the only cover on the album Sky Won’t Fall, being another favourite of mine it’s great to see Stevie don his Sonic Blue Strat. The big man is going to give us a tune complete with broken arm.
After warning the fans how bad he has now become he jumps straight in. Stevie’s voice is perfect for this Allman Brothers track. As he battles with his arm, the pain, the lyrics and putting on a great show, the man does a great job of this favourite and gets a rousing ovation for his efforts. We’re approaching the last two tracks of the evening; Freddie Kings Going Down, always a crowd pleaser, and handled like a pro by young Dave Devlin, and finally, which as other shows, goes to The Storm by Big George and the Business, a friend and mentor, spoken about with affection, again Stevie always tips a hat to this big fella from his past.
A fantastic song to finish a great night of rural blues.
Stevie has been through the mill with his arm, the frustration of not being able to play his guitar, the admiration of young Devlin and the willingness to complete all his dates mark this guy out as a gem. Surgery is undoubtedly the only way forward, but he’s not cancelling any gigs to get it done first.
A brilliant frontman with a great band behind him. The Stevie Nimmo Trio (+1) are a special talent. Catch them as soon as you can for a great night of Blues/Rock and fun!!
Words & pictures: Manny Manson.