Review: Dead Man's Corner
At The Duke, Sunday 29 March 2015
This was the debut gig of Steve Bolton's eagerly anticipated new band. With The Duke's music area filling rapidly an hour before the start there was already electricity in the air, so what a shock to hear that their great rock drummer Bryn Burrows couldn't make the gig due to illness. But in the spirit of the show must go on, 'Grace' [the Gretsch] ... Steve's fabulous new guitar was unveiled anyway, along with Justin Homewood [a.k.a. Dust] on deep bass, and Alan J Cook playing pedal steel guitar, all put to great affect on their opening number, Steve's intriguing song The Weatherman.
The beautiful recently self written The Harbour references the name of the band, Dead Man's Corner, that place where apparently poor souls lost at sea used to float in on the tide at Whitstable, and it's also where Steve married Louise ... "Our friends were all around us they came from near and far ...", this is one from the heart, and in my book already a classic, featuring ethereally wonderful pedal steel guitar, and evoking atmospheric devotion.
There was exceptional bass playing by Dust on Souls Unknown, and he earned several gold stars by essentially doing two jobs at once. During Surf Powder the engagement of each of the band was palpable, and their sheer musicality and enjoyment of the moment spread in ripples through the large audience which was full of musicians and enthusiasts of fine music.
Billy Fury's Wond'rous Place was reworked and taken to other yet marvellous locations and onwards into 'Countrydelic' including a wah wah pedal enhanced guitar solo from Steve that was probably never envisaged by Billy, but crikey, it works!
The band relaxed into their second set as the multi layers and various textures of their sound came to the fore. Mystery Train rattled along with a primal Bo Diddley riff, zig zagging its way across psychedelic terrain. With Alan switching to twelve string electric, an incredible version of Between Clark And Hilldale was presented (it was originally recorded by Love in 1967).
Sea of Heartbreak was deconstructed to become a fascinating enigma wrapped in mystery. With lovely raga like interplay between Steve and Alan, and Dust's exuberant bass lines powering the flight, Eight Miles High grew wings and flew.
Towards the show's end White Lightning felt as though Steve had succeeded in distilling the essence and experience of his previous bands into an intoxicating and radically new brew. Its creatively thoughtful music that rewards attention as it integrates both head and heart, and it rocks ! With a reprise of The Weatherman at the finale, the suggestion to 'think suitably disturbing twanging desert soundscapes, swashbuckling with pedal steely scary moods and mind bending peyote coyote guitar' in the band's publicity had been fully realised, and to slightly misquote Steve's lyric from Souls Unknown ... 'these vibrations had knocked us out'.
We locals can chug another lug from the Dead Man's jug at The Old Neptune on Sunday 24 May, complete with Bryn back on board, which will be a treat. Meanwhile Deadman's Corner are off playing far and wide, spreading the love and transcendence ... it was great to have been there at the birth.
Submitted by Nigel
Find their next gig: Dead Man's Corner