Gig Review: Savoy Brown (The Borderline, London, May 13, 2014)

A Savoy Brown gig in London is a rare treat for us Brits.

Their main market these days is the States, but every so often we are blessed with a special gig from Kim Simmonds and crew. This gig is their only UK show and comes at the end of a European tour.

Kim Simmonds is the single remaining original member and only continuing thread throughout their almost 50 year existence. A highly underrated British blues guitarist of the highest caliber, he is up there with the likes of  Eric Clapton and Peter Green.

The last time Savoy Brown played these shores was back in April, 2012, at The Jazz Cafe in Camden as a four piece band, with Joe Whiting on vocals and sax. A live album called “Songs From The Road” documents that line up well. This time around they are a trio with Kim handling all the lead vocals, Garnet Grimm on drums and Pat De Salvo on bass.

A fairly good turn out of true British blues fans this evening, giving the band a very warm welcome. Kim is looking well and is up for this gig. All smiles
and jovial chatter, you can see he loves what he does by the way he talks enthusiastically about his work. The set kicks off with five old classics played on acoustic guitar.

First up is a great track from the “Raw Sienna” album of 1970 called ‘A Hard Way To Go’ then straight into ‘Shot In The Head’ from “Lion’s Share”. ‘Sunday Night’ from “Looking In”, ‘Black Night’ from the first album ‘Shakedown’, followed by the brilliant Chris Youlden song ‘I’m Tired’ from “A Step Further”.

Kim’s playing is sublime and hypnotizing! His vocals can not match the dizzy heights of such greats as Chris Youlden or Dave Walker but they are pretty close to it!

A change over to electric guitar for the rest of the show. Next up we get four new songs from the new album “Goin’ To The Delta” – ‘I Miss Your Love’, the title track, ‘Nuthin’ Like The Blues’, and ‘Cobra’.

They sound authentic and real. This a band that is still excited by what the blues can offer today and they execute it with abounding energy, style and grace.

On to the last stretch of the set with three monumental classics, ‘Street Corner Talking’, ‘Hellbound Train’ and ‘Tell Mama’. The band are stretching out here with Kim just flying with inventive soloing. The smile on his face shows us that this man is in his element, and we are too! The crowd are showing their appreciation, clapping and cheering for more.

The encore launches into ‘Savoy Brown Boogie’ from the “Step Further” album then another new song ‘Laura Lee’.

After that they are done for the night. An absolutely fantastic evening. Kim shakes hands with the front row then leaves the stage to have a well earned rest.

Steven C. Gilbert

Reader’s Comments from original post (on Shak Cohen Music site):

Wished I had been there! Mike Swarbrick

Well, luckily my wife and I were, and front rowers at that. Accurate review of the gig I feel. Superb night and yes I agree, Mr Simmonds very underrated – but what about that rhythm section of Pat and Garnett – many bands would give their hind teeth for a section as tight and hypnotic as they are. Brilliant gig shared with a great but respectful crowd. Memorable for all the right reasons. Steve

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