A Tribute to Micky Jones - Pontardawe

Saturday 18 September 2010

George JonesSo, on to the second gig in memory of Micky Jones. Again, arranged by son George, whose time and efforts in this enterprise can only be admired.

As noted in the first gig, the venue's only real minus was in the bar arrangements, but that was a little better this time around, so all in all, the Pontardawe Arts Centre should get a big thumbs up from all concerned.

The Flying Pigs were first up, helped out by George Jones and Richie and Marco from Sassafras. It all made for a very effective Together Again, followed by Rocky Mountain Way, complete with virtuoso bass solo from Mick Hawksworth, and Living in the Real World. All good stuff. Shame the announcer got the names of Mick Hawkswoth and Phil Little the wrong way round...

George's Cover Sluts were up next, with just a couple of songs - the Police's So Lonely and a ferocious version of Led Zep's Whole Lotta Love. If you squinted at the stage through half closed eyes, it might almost have looked like Page and Plant up there. Almost.

Andy Fairweather Low got a huge reception for what was a brief, but engaging pair of songs: Paradise turned into an audience sing-along, while Wide Eyed and Legless was delivered with just the right amount of charm before it became syrupy.

It was a larger audience than The Green Ray are used to seeing at The Plough in Walthamstow, but they didn't seem at all fazed; Richard Treece seated, while Ken Whaley bopped around as usual. The music, also as usual, was loose and relaxed, but Day and Night went down well all the same; as a bonus, Nik Turner added his sax for one song.

Bob and George were augmented by Richie and Marco from Sassafras to form an impromptu allstar outfit... "I've wanted to play this song... forever..." said George. Call Down the Moon, surely the Manband's greatest post-split composition, ensued. Beautiful. It's a fairly complex piece, and I dare say it would have benefitted from a bit more rehearsal, but George played superbly, Bob knew exactly what he was doing, and Richie sang it better than he had any right to. The highlight of the night so far. Talk About a Morning had a shakey start, but gathered steam as it went along, and was also thoroughly enjoyable.

Gary Pickford-Hopkins made another cameo appearence, this version of Georgia backed by Brian Breeze; again, well appreciated by the audience.

It's a credit to the technical crew how quickly they were getting the bands on and off all night, and next up were the Groundhogs. Tony McPhee suffered a stroke last year which has mainly affected his voice, so vocals are mainly dealt with by his partner Joanna. He can still play guitar though... We were treated to some TS classics, including Split parts 1 and 2, and Cherry Red to finish with. In the midst of all this, they also did a cover of C'mon, maybe not the most faithful of covers, and Joanna needed a cheat sheet for the words, but certainly reocgnisable; and you have to admire the sincerity of their admiration for Micky in making the effort.

The headliners of the night had to be Iceberg. Assisted by the wonderful Brian Breeze as well as Bob and Will tonight, they opened with Ride and the View, and Deke proved quite emphatically that he's still got it... whatever it is I'm not sure, but Deke certainly has it. Fools Like Me followed, the raucous growl present and correct in both guitar and vocals. They chose the standard Bring it on Home for the next number, and good as it was, bearing in mind the limited time they had available, I would have preferred another Iceberg original in the set; a minor quibble though.

It was special guest time next, as Pugwash made his way on stage. Unable to drum these days beacuse of back problems, he did a fine job of providing co-lead vocals on Circumstances. Deke's guitar was a bit high in the mix - if this seems like an unecessary gripe, it only highlights how consistently good the sound and the mix was over both events. Someone behind the scenes was doing a good job.

Razorblade and Rattlesnake was simply wonderful, all angles and sharp edges, and not even the screwed up ending could spoil it.

We then got the addition of the jamming guests - George and Terry Williams added for 7171-551, Sassafras' Marco for Romain, and Nik Turner for Spunk Rock. At events like this, the quality of the music takes a back seat to the overall sense of occasion, and it all went down a storm, as they all took their turn to solo; nobody was necessarily 100% sure they were doing the right thing in the right place at the right time: it was chaos.

But it was glorious chaos.

Two wonderful nights to celebrate a rare and special talent. George can be very proud of what he achieved here, and I'm sure his dad would have been proud of him too.

There are a few pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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