Review: 6FOOT3 Reunion gig
At The Duke, Whitstable, 27 March 2014
Jake: We're putting the band back together
Mr Fabulous: Forget it, no way
Elwood: We're on a mission from God
Now whether, like The Blues Brothers, Steve Bolton received his inspiration from a divine source or not I can't say, but there may have been some dazzling light when he thought "What a hoot to reform for a one-off weekend of gigs about the trio that he'd been an integral part of twenty years ago. The guitar slinger's vision became a reality at 6FOOT3's opening gig at The Duke, with others to be held in London.
This event was like listening to a conversation in music that was continuing from the moment two decades previously when life with it's other plans had interrupted it, and the band's pleasure in this enterprise was infectious, as they launched into their first number, I Spy (Middle Eye).
With Steve Bolton on guitar and singing his self written songs, Jim Kimberley from the well respected band, Bruise, drums and vocal, and his brother Bob Kimberley on bass, this was a different form of music from that which many of us had known and loved from Steve before, however a good crowd of Whitstable musos were rewarded for having trudged through a cold and wet night by an abundance of Steve's unleashed and improvised liquid soloing.
Meanwhile the thunderous rhythm section of the Kimberley brothers not only played their instruments but also reverberated through the floorboards, the furniture, and the audience's internal organs ... sitting close to this band was a mighty physical experience, as the 'dub' frequency and intricately patterned rumblings from Bob Kimberley's bass combined with Jim Kimberley's tour de force drumming to revelatory effect.
Upon seeing the tall (yes, really 6 foot 3 !) distinctive musicians on the street all those years ago "a little old lady" had asked "Are you from outer space ?"... perhaps so, as they appeared this time around to be bringing Strange newsfrom another star, lyrically and musically warping time, as they produced those special dynamics of sound that only a trio in such sympatico mode as this can evoke.
This was music that defied categorization, although it was interesting to try ... 'Rockadub Acid 'n'Funk'? ... 'Raga delic Cascading Wave music' ... no, can't do it, but no matter because something indefinable on a thursday night is very welcome.
Steve's songs constitute nearly the entirety of their set, and their lyrics inhabit a place of 'otherness' describing Astral journeys where "Vibrations knock me out" (The Weatherman), and being "kissed by souls unknown" (Souls Unknown) and many other esoteric nuggets all contribute to an inner travelogue ... it'll be intriguing to hear more episodes from his dream trajectory.
There were echoes of George Harrison's 'Blue Jay Way' that I think George would have approved of on Supernatural State with it's plaintive refrain "Please be kind"; other intimations of The Beatles at their most psychedelic ran like cross currents beneath the swift flow of these hard rocking and yet introspective songs. The affecting Souls Unknown was followed by an outstanding version of Dr John's I Walk On Gilded Splinters complete with the 'voodoo vibe' that stunning song with its descriptions of potent magic requires ...
Steve found a deeper register and intonation for his vocal which was entirely appropriate, palpably rendering it's mysterious ceremony of darkness ... as he'd said earlier, "You have to live it" Another terrific original song was Does She Know She's There from a set that only contained two albeit great 'covers', and by this time immense waves of sound ... vigorous, rocking and rhythmic, challenging and cerebral, were rolling, the ship was in full sail, so it was only sensible to tie ourselves to the mast, secure in the knowledge that the hands on the tiller (or more specifically the Stratocaster) would steer the ship as it rode the peaks safely back to shore.
Shaken and stirred we were then suddenly in flight, soaring Over The Moon which was 6foot3's penultimate number before their powerhouse interpretation of Scott Walker's Jackie, and it was fitting indeed that a song written by a fellow maverick of music should provide the night's finale.
That the substantial audience consisted of mainly local enthusiasts was testimony that authentic Whitstable music lovers remain keen to show up for music which is more demanding than the bland and predictable, which is beginning to be increasingly dished out in some quarters.
It was also a timely reminder that we are more than lucky to have Steve Bolton in our midst ... a great showman, (or should that be shaman?) and a consummate musician who is willing to take chances with diverse music ventures in order to deliver this degree of commitment and intensity ... today sounds from another time were reprised to powerful effect, as my music guru Derek said ... "Fantastic! ... a real gig!"... tomorrow, well who knows? but expect the unexpected, and when it happens we'll all be there.
Submitted by Nigel