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BILL WYMAN'S RHYTHM KINGS - Reviews

 

 

The Birmingham Post May 6 2002
Rhythm on the rolling road

Ex-Rolling Stone bass guitarist Bill Wyman tells John Whishaw about his own band’s latest tour and what drives him on at the age of 65.

Since he quit the Rolling Stones a decade ago, bass guitarist Bill Wyman has been keeping himself busy. After 30 years with the “Greatest Rock and Roll Band in The World” Wyman wasn’t about to retire gracefully.

In 1996, he formed a new outfit, because he wanted to play the type of music which first inspired him to pick up the bass in the first place.

“I wanted to call this band the Rhythm Kings,” he insists.

“It was the record companies who insisted we were Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. I don’t like to live on past achievements.”

Bill rounded up a number of like-minded friends, some of them renowned veterans like organ maestro Georgie Fame and guitar whiz Albert Lee, others less well known like classy singer Beverly Skeete and Kidderminster boogie woogie pianist Mike Sanchez.

Last year Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings toured the UK, Europe and America, playing more than 80 dates to more than 150,000 fans. This time out, they’re kicking off with a 37-date British tour, which comes to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall tonight, before setting off around the world in the summer. The 65-year-old bandleader is looking forward to his return to the city. “We played at the Jam House two yeas ago,” he recalls. “We went down a storm. We had great reviews from there.”

To prepare himself for the onslaught, Wyman has had a short vacation to recharge his batteries. “I just took a brief holiday with my family. We had three weeks in France, it was my first holiday for two years. It became a working holiday in the end, because I can never stop working, but at least it was a break, in a different country and a different environment.”

Bill married American fashion designer Suzanne Accosta on April 21, 1993, and together they have three young daughters, Katharine Noelle, Jessica Rose and Matilda Mae. Bill also has a 41-year-old son, Stephen, from his first marriage.

There have been a few changes in the Rhythm Kings’ line-up since last year, and Bill reckons he’s noticed an improvement. “We did a couple of gigs in February and they went really well. It sounded just that little bit neater and cleaner than it has before. Sometimes you can tend to overplay, if you have so many people on stage,” he observes. “Me and Georgie go back a long way. Albert Lee and I have played together at the occasional charity event, he’s a genius on guitar. We all kinda know each other.”

Pianist Mike Sanchez, who helped out last year, while regular Rhythm Kings piano player Gary Brooker undertook Procul Harum duties, has become a bona fide member. “We’ve brought Mike into the band full-time now,” Wyman confirms. “I’d seen him a couple of times with the Big Town Playboys and thought he would be the perfect replacement for Gary. Mike is fabulous, a really lovely bloke. He’s a very natural player who puts fun into everything. He’s really dedicated and he puts on a great show, with lots of gusto and energy. I think he’s quite amusing actually.

“Next to someone like me, who doesn’t move about on stage at all, he’s all over the place. He gets absolutely drenched in sweat, while I’m bone dry. Mike was such a winner last year, I had to keep him in the band, because we all enjoyed playing with him so much. He was very well received by the audiences. Everybody was saying ‘I hope you’ve got Mike Sanchez this time’.”

Bill is also anxious to give credit to the unsung hero of the line-up, his right-hand man, rhythm guitarist Terry Taylor. “Terry does everything,” he states. “He knows all the chord structures and all that stuff, which I don’t know, because he reads music as well. He had classical training when he was a kid. Terry corrects everybody when they play the wrong chords, and he’s got a fantastic ear. He’ll hear if a harmony line isn’t quite right, and he’ll correct it. He’s the motor who makes sure it all stays in the right place, at the right tempo. He’s highly respected within the band. For my part, I’ve learned a completely different technique of playing the bass,” he explains. “I don’t use a pick, I use my thumb now, because I want to sound as much as possible like an upright bass.”

Saxophonist Frank Mead and Nick Payne have also serve time with the Big town Playboys, while the drum chair for this outing is occupied by Henry Spinetti, who played with Albert Lee in Eric Clapton’s band of the late-seventies. “Henry really can play good rock ‘n’ roll and he’s pretty good on the stuff we do, which is more jazzy. “He fits in really well, he’s a good, driving drummer. We’ve brought Henry in because Graham Broad, our regular drummer, is on the road with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. Graham has got four children, so he has to bring in some money.

“You don’t earn much with this band, because there are so many mouths to feed, there’s not much change left. I don’t think about the earning potential, maybe I should. They’re all working musicians, out there doing their own gigs. Last year Beverly Skeete toured with the Eurythmics, but luckily it didn’t conflict with when we were working.

“We try to get together at certain times of the year and nine out of ten it works perfectly. There isn’t really any other band who do what we do, which is to play a wide variety of music. There’s jazz, soul, blues, gospel, rockabilly and jump jive, a whole mixture of styles, and it’s very appealing.

“We’re very adaptable, everybody can get off on it, because it’s forever changing throughout the set. Georgie will do a soulful jazzy thing, and then Beverly sings a beautiful ballad, then Mike will do a crazy number and Albert Lee plays a country tune, so it’s constantly changing, which is really hard to do. We spread right across the board. I think that’s why we’re popular. The audiences always want us to play for ever. It’s great for us to get a standing ovation and go home feeling they really loved us.

“There’s a really lovely camaraderie in the band, because everybody’s friendly and we all enjoy it. There are no hassles or prima donnas. Nobody wants to show off better than anybody else, except Mike Sanchez, but he does it in a great way, so it’s all right,” he laughs. “It’s his nature.”

 

Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings
The Lowry Centre, Salford, Manchester
January 25th 2004

The Lowry Centre is Manchester’s leading arts venue and it was here the Rhythm Kings’ current UK tour came to its conclusion. The usual suspects were all present and correct (Albert Lee, Georgie Fame, Mike Sanchez, Beverly Skeete) to fully entertain an 1800 strong capacity audience.

Albert Lee’s playing was as fluid and smack on as ever. His forty-odd years in the business have seen him attain legendary status and his biting county style both compliments and acts as the perfect foil to the mainstream approach of the other band members. A living guitar phenomenon if ever there was.

If Albert’s a phenomenon, then Beverly Skeete is a downright revelation. It was the first time I’d seen her perform and she used her strong, soulful voice to great effect on an intense and emotive slow burn reading of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic “I Put A Spell On You”, and then showed she was more than capable of burning rubber by delivering a blistering version of Jackie Wilson’s “I’ll Be Satisfied”.

Georgie Fame was, for the most part, content to let his organ (if you’ll pardon the obvious and tacky pun) do the talking, although he did showcase on several numbers, most notably on the Mose Allison classic “Days Like This” and a Ray Charles medley.

In contrast the Rhythm King’s other keyboard practitioner, Mike Sanchez, wasn’t content to adopt the role of anchorman, choosing to lead from the front in his usual demonstrative manner.
Equally at home on vintage ‘50s r&b, rock’n’roll or Chicago blues, he gave a master class on how to work an audience, highlights of which were scorching renditions of TV Slim’s “Flatfoot Sam” and Jerry Byrne’s “Lights Out”. It also fell to Mike to lead the closing segment by way of and extended version of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” that featured the obligatory crazed prowl through the audience by the ex-Big Town Playboy. Despite the presence of his illustrious colleagues, he stole the show in a manner that would have made Dick Turpin turn his mask and pistol in if the infamous highway robber had still been around to ply his trade today.

And so what of the man whose name the Rhythm Kings go under the banner of? As he was in his Rolling Stones days, Bill Wyman appears, visually, to be the epitome of physical minimalism. Appearances though, as the old saying goes, can be deceptive and he’s actually an authorative overseer – the hub of the wheel around which the whole musical merry-go-round revolves.
Bill grew up listening to a rich roster of rock’n’roll / r&b artists who left their indelible mark on the ‘50s before bloating and distorting his roots with The Rolling Stones during the rock excesses of the late ‘60s and beyond. Now, with the Rhythm Kings he’s come full circle and returned to the music of his youth.
Isn’t there a message about musical durability to be learnt from that?

-Pete O’Gorman

 

 

BILL LETS THE GOOD TIMES ROLL
Evening Standard
13th November 2003

BILL WYMAN’S RHYTHM KINGS
Albert Hall - Pete Clark

After all the fuss about the MTV awards, and young people with hardly any clothes on, it was time that popular music showed a little class. Bill Wyman never pretended to be the coolest guy on the block, but he knows to steer well away from the emperor’s new clothes and offer up some decent musical schmutter.
Sadly, this did not apply to special guest stars Chas ‘n’ Dave, but their hat and rabbit routine merely served to point up the excellence of the rest.
The Rhythm Kings are mostly a group of retiring stars. Albert Lee remains a great guitar picker without fanfare, while Georgie Fame is a relaxed professor of style behind a much-travelled Hammond organ.
Mike Sanchez plays the extrovert, assuming leadership of the group by default, as Bill Wyman is content to let his thumb do the talking on bass guitar, stolidly maintaining the air of a hard-done-by straight man from a Carry On film.
Guest stars came and went, most notably the turbo-lunged Sam Brown, daughter of Joe, a close-cropped Peter Frampton, and Mark Knopfler, who wears his blonde Les Paul guitar like an uncomfortable accessory, but plays it as if it were second nature.
The star of the show, entirely by design, is the music. From the opening bars of Let The Good Times Roll, we are deftly escorted through the less touristy parts of the musical canon, the path less well trodden.
Georgie Fame treats us to some Mose Allison and Ray Charles, Sanchez leads a storming Race With The Devil by way of the ghost of Gene Vincent.
Lonnie Donegan gets a tribute as the man who started some of this music rolling, some dues are paid to Chester Burnett, aka Howlin’ Wolf, as a master of the blues, and to JJ Cale as the king of rolling and rumbling rhythm.
What we have here are the treasures of a golden age – they are not often gathered together and put on display like this.
Watch out all you young people: the old folk are making a big comeback.

 

 

 

 

BILL LETS THE GOOD TIMES ROLL
Evening Standard
13th November 2003

BILL WYMAN’S RHYTHM KINGS
Albert Hall - Pete Clark

After all the fuss about the MTV awards, and young people with hardly any clothes on, it was time that popular music showed a little class. Bill Wyman never pretended to be the coolest guy on the block, but he knows to steer well away from the emperor’s new clothes and offer up some decent musical schmutter.
Sadly, this did not apply to special guest stars Chas ‘n’ Dave, but their hat and rabbit routine merely served to point up the excellence of the rest.
The Rhythm Kings are mostly a group of retiring stars. Albert Lee remains a great guitar picker without fanfare, while Georgie Fame is a relaxed professor of style behind a much-travelled Hammond organ.
Mike Sanchez plays the extrovert, assuming leadership of the group by default, as Bill Wyman is content to let his thumb do the talking on bass guitar, stolidly maintaining the air of a hard-done-by straight man from a Carry On film.
Guest stars came and went, most notably the turbo-lunged Sam Brown, daughter of Joe, a close-cropped Peter Frampton, and Mark Knopfler, who wears his blonde Les Paul guitar like an uncomfortable accessory, but plays it as if it were second nature.
The star of the show, entirely by design, is the music. From the opening bars of Let The Good Times Roll, we are deftly escorted through the less touristy parts of the musical canon, the path less well trodden.
Georgie Fame treats us to some Mose Allison and Ray Charles, Sanchez leads a storming Race With The Devil by way of the ghost of Gene Vincent.
Lonnie Donegan gets a tribute as the man who started some of this music rolling, some dues are paid to Chester Burnett, aka Howlin’ Wolf, as a master of the blues, and to JJ Cale as the king of rolling and rumbling rhythm.
What we have here are the treasures of a golden age – they are not often gathered together and put on display like this.
Watch out all you young people: the old folk are making a big comeback.

 

 

 

 

The Birmingham Post
12th November 2003

THE ROBERT CRAY BAND
Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

BILL WYMAN’S RHYTHM KINGS
Symphony Hall

The local gig scene has become a blues desert in recent years, but now, suddenly, we’ve had a whole weekend of the stuff.
Both of these gigs drew heavy crowds, and this is something of a surprise given that Robert Cray’s profile is no longer so high, and that Bill Wyman seems to play around these parts with alarming regularity.

Cray has always had a bitter, twisted edge to his songwriting, detailing one (or many?) relationships that have turned sour, plunging himself into the real-deal misery of the blues. His music itself is polished and soulful, so only careful study of the lyrics will reveal the workings of Robert’s tortured mind.
It must be gratifying for him that so many of the stand-out tunes are new additions, lifted from the recent Time Will Tell album. Numbers like Survivor, Back Door Slam and the encore choice of Up In The Sky.
The latter sees Cray coaxing a sitar sound out of his guitar, seemingly without the use of effects pedals, bringing home the fact that his beseeching vocal lines, answered by equally articulate string solos, have the structure and emotional intensity of Indian classical music.

Wyman’s show was a more extrovert affair, and a far better live performance than his albums would suggest. Ostensibly planning a 75-minute set, the Rhythm Kings ended up playing for well over two hours, something that looked like a genuinely spontaneous response to their reception.
The extremely deadpan Wyman is the only artist I’ve witnessed smoking onstage: fag drooping from the corner of his lip, a cloud surrounding him as he nonchalantly caresses his bass. No showman, of course, but as bandleader he’s the catalyst for this good-rocking time.
Helping Wyman out are guitarist Albert Lee (equally well-versed in blues, country and rock’n’roll), organist Georgie Fame and singer Beverly Skeete. The saxophone section of Nick Payn and Frank Mead provides the visceral honking, but the magnetic frontman is definitely Mike Sanchez, who climaxes the show when he greases down into the aisles, raising the whole crowd on to its feet.
Numbers by Gene Vincent, Ray Charles, Mel Torme and Howlin’ Wolf ensure the evening’s variety, the whole sequence whipping by with a strong sense of pacing. Wyman was even fairly convincing as he cockneyed through Je Suis Un Rock Star for encore.
-- Martin Longley

 

 

 

Birmingham Post - 28 April 2003
Swingin’ Big Time with Rhythm Boys

As Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings prepare to open the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Charlie Melvin chews the fat with the band’s pianist Mike Sanchez

Check out the first night of the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival on Wednesday and you’ll be royally entertained with two shows by The Rhythm Kings, the all-star rock ‘n’ roll band led by former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman.

Their line-up for the Festival features Wyman on bass guitar, with guitar and vocals from Amen Corner’s Andy Fairweather Low and ex-Big Town Playboys frontman Mike Sanchez providing vocals and boogie woogie piano. They are joined by Joe Cocker’s old organist Chris Stainton, with Wyman’s right-hand man Terry Taylor playing rhythm guitar, Frank Mead and Nick Payne on saxophones, and back from his stint with Pink Floyd, Graham Broad on drums.

Kidderminster’s Mike Sanchez, now in his third year as a member of The Rhythm Kings, was originally brought in as a temporary replacement for pianist Gary Brooker, who’d become busy with his revitalised Procol Harum.

Mike has fitted into the band so well and proved extremely popular with Rhythm Kings audiences, that he’s become a permanent fixture in the band.

“Gary had come up to me at a gig saying, ‘Mike, I might have a little job for you, there are a few shows I can’t do with The Rhythm Kings. It’ll be a lot of fun for you’” the 39 year-old piano player smiles.

“I’d first met Bill in the late 80s, when we shared the stage together, along with Gary Brooker, Andy Fairweather Low, Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones and a host of other rock celebs, at a charity cricket match. Then, when I was playing with Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood at Harrods in London, to launch Mick’s internet auction business, Bill was in the audience. It was a tremendous night. The following week, at The Hard Rock Café, I performed Imagine on John Lennon’s original piano, which was incredibly nerve-racking.

“Ten minutes later, the instrument was bought by George Michael.

“When I was in the Big Town Playboys, Andy Fairweather Low joined the band in 1996 for 18 months. It’s lovely working with Andy again, he’s one of the sweetest guys anyone could wish to work with and he’s such a fabulous guitarist.

He does a lot of thumb-picking and stuff with his fingers, he hardly ever uses a plectrum and it’s an incredible sound he gets.”

Mike Sanchez was born in London’s hackney in 1964, where he started taking piano lessons at ten-years-old. When his family moved to the West Midlands, Mike developed a love for 50s rock ‘n’ roll, teaching himself guitar and forming his rockabilly trio The Rockets. Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant introduced him to former Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown and Steve Gibbons multi-instrumentalist Andy Silvester, which led to the founding of The Big Town Playboys in 1984, who were to earn the description, in the 1993 edition of the Guinness Who’s Who Of Blues, as “the best R&B revival band in Britain”.

Nevertheless, Sanchez quit The Big Town Playboys at the tail end of 1999. “As the year 2000 came in, that was the time I finally sheared off 15 years in a confined space, where I couldn’t really do the things I wanted to, because of all the democracy involved and all of that,” he sighs.

After contributing to the sound track of Robbie Coltrane’s 1991 comedy romp The Pope Must Die, Mike was recently asked to provide the music for the movie I’ll Be There. “Last year, I got a call from the EMI people in London, who’d seen me playing with The Rhythm Kings at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe,” he relates.

“They said they wanted to recommend me to Morgan Creek Productons in Los Angeles who were making a movie with the opera star Charlotte Church and a guy called Craig Ferguson. It’s about a rock singer who was famous in the 80s, who discovers he has a 20 year-old daughter. She’s got a grandfather who’s an old rockabilly character.

“They would have used me in the movie visually, had I not been 30 years younger than they needed. They asked me to create live-sounding versions of six songs, including Hank Mizell’s Jungle Rock and Elvis Presley’s Trouble, but the real challenge was a band orchestration of Honky Tonk Train Blues by Meade Lux Lewis. People who’ve seen the finished film have said I’ll really like it.”

Sanchez is just releasing his brand-new album Women & Cadillacs, his first record for his own label, Doopin Music, cut in collaboration with Swedish blues band Knock-Out Greg & Blue Weather. “I met Knock-Out Greg when we shared the bill at the Hell Blues Festival in Norway,” he explains.

“I brought them over to England last Easter and we appeared at Merry Hill’s Robin R&B Club together. People couldn’t believe how great this band was. We started recording together at the beginning of last year. I’d fly over to Stockholm and we’d spend a couple of days doing live gigs, followed by a day and a half in the studio. So we’d record several tracks on each visit.”

Since releasing his Blue Boy album in 2001, composed entirely of old rock, blues and country covers, Sanchez has continued to immerse himself in good-time revivalism. “I’ve stuck my head right in the old stuff that we always tried to get right and never felt we did. Once I’ve got that done, and it’s all out of the way, I want to do so many other things. I’m functioning in many ways, as a soloist, as a member of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings and I have a lot of fun with the four-piece, guitarist Andy Silvester, bassist Al Gare, who spent 15 years with King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys, and drummer Mark Morgan.

“We also have a three-piece horn section for bigger shows and I’ve got some exciting new plans for the 12-piece Rhythm & Blues Revue. I’m having a great time.”

Bill Wyman and The Rhythm Kings can be seen at The Town Hall, Cheltenham on Wednesday, Apr 30. 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Tickets £19 (standing) Box office:01242 227979.

 

 

 

 

The Birmingham Post
May 8 2002
Shiny new songs for old

Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Symphony Hall Birmingham May 6 2002

It’s always a kick to see a member of the Rolling Stones in action, even if these days Bill Wyman no longer has Mick, Keith and Charlie around him.

“I prefer this lot now”, the bass guitarist quipped, jerking his thumb towards the motley assortment of musicians assembled on the Symphony Hall stage, as they launched into a stonking version of Ray Charles’s Mess Around.

As promised, the nine-piece Rhythm Kings served up a superb selection of old rhythm and blues favourites, with every member given the opportunity to shine.

Sultry Beverly Skeete, sporting waist-length weave extensions, poured her heart and soul into Jackie Wilsons’s Baby Workout, Nellie Lutcher’s Real Gone Guy and Screaming jay Hawkins’s I Put A Spell On You.

Organist Georgie Fame, the epitome of cool, crooned sophisticated songs by Dan Hicks, Mose Allison and JJ Cale, while his take on Edwin Starr’s Stop Her On Sight contained a nod to Bright Side Of The Road by his other occasional boss, Van Morrison.

Swarthy Mike Sanchez pounded his piano on Amos Milburn’s Chicken Shack Boogie and the Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace, which allowed Frank Mead to blow a wild alto sax, but, let’s be honest, when was the last time a kid from Kidderminster held court at Symphony Hall?

Sanchez should be very proud of his performance.

Finally, Wyman himself took the vocal microphone for a folksy reading of Leadbelly’s Midnight Special, accompanied by Terry Taylor’s dobro and Albert Lee’s mandolin.

-- John Whisaw

 

 

 

Rhythm Kings are still ruling

Bill Wyman and The Rhythm Kings: Colston Hall, Bristol
May 9th 2002

Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings revisited the Colston Hall for the third time in four years at the start of a tour, which concludes in late July in Europe, but studiously misses the month of June for the World Cup.

The tour is not a conventional one in that there is no recent album to support. There is a small matter of last year’s book entitled Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey and an accompanying compilation CD giving credit to original artists from the twenties to the very early fifties. But this may have explained some empty seats at the back. The audience were given a repertoire of every conceivable rock and roll music type played by a nine-piece band who each had an opportunity to shine.

Bill Wyman has never been credited with being the most enigmatic performer but his pride in his band is evident even during Mike Sanchez’s more eccentric moments. Mike plays electric piano and is their rock and roll impresario. Jitterbug Boogie was one of the early numbers that got the audience shaking a limb to the backbeat of drummer Henry Spinetti. By the time Mike had sung Flat Foot Sam, Lights Out and Chantilly Lace to conclude the set he was literally melting away. Mr Sweat as Bill calls him.

There were blues tributes to Little Walter on Too Late, Howlin’ Wolf on Down In The Bottom and Mose Allison for Days Like This. Albert Lee is no slouch with his lead guitar work and Good Morning Little School Girl was a highlight. Bill Wyman self-mockingly testified that was one tune he had not written! JJ Cale’s Anyway The Wind Blows featured the legendary Georgie Fame on Hammon organ and vocals and guitar work by Terry Taylor, Bill’s song-writing partner for 35 years. Beverly Skeete took many lead vocal spots but her performance on I Put A Spell On You was a tingling one and the excellent arrangement of this Jay Hawkins’s classic by the Rhythm Kings including the horn of Frank Mead and Nick Payne’s flute proves their musical prowess.

For the encore, the audience were reminded how Bill started out playing skiffle and the number Midnight Special enabled him to perform his only vocal moment supported by Terry on dobro steel guitar. The band then launched into Chicken Shack Boogie and concluded with a rip-roaring Tear It Up.

Star rating: * * * *
-- MARTIN ELLIOTT

 

 

 

REVIEW - LONDON (Ontario, Canada) (August 16th)
8/23/2001 10:58:15 AM
Thanks to Tom Ball

Tom Ball (Undercover Mailing List 20-Aug-01): “I got down to the Park 90 minutes before the opening act was to come on. I did not have a ticket yet & ran into a guy who had 2 tickets he wanted to unload so he did not have to be in the rain at this concert.

Once inside the venue the rain would stop sometimes & then start again. At this time the crowd was sparse & everything was wet. Many had lawn chairs. Another group of people I met up with there gave me an umbrella to use for the first while when I was there. I went over & talked to the Tour Manager for a few moments & asked him if he thought Bill would sign my 2 items I wanted singed later or if I would be wasting my time trying & he said he thought he would sign both because he has a good sense of humor.

The crowd still sparse the warm up girl comes on Rita Shiralli. She was very good & played a country blues type music. At this time tame crowd sitting in there lawn chairs. No one even 15 feet close to the stage or even thinking about it. As the opening act came to a close many more people started to show up. Then Bills bus shows up & they go to announce him I turn to the guy beside me & explain to him to get ready to go to the stage fast as soon as I make a move everyone will. Boom I take one step towards the stage & the crowd follows right behind me. I am now with my head at the top of the stage looking right in the center.

Bill Wyman 6 feet in front of me Mike Sanchez to the left of me & to the right Gary Brooker & beside Bill Martin Taylor Albert Lee. Now it hits me I now looking right at Bill Wyman & that Stones fever is there. The talent on this stage is amazing. I must say that us Canadians are so lucky to have had the chance to see Mike Sanchez as this guy is good. It started to rain again & he worked it right into his song getting down on his knees in front of the crowd & crawling on the ground singing & getting right into the music.

Bill Wyman was having a blast the first part of the show he did not smile to much but the last part he smiled all the time I don`t think he could stop. He does keep watching the guys playing on stage while he is up there. I think he has people in the band that he just likes to watch himself night after night. I think to many people at this venue though it was packed I would say close to 4000. It was a good turnout. While I was back up at the stage I asked the one roady for the set list which he gave me. It has blurred rain drops on it.

There was no big sign there to ask for. I had one more beer ticket left as I never left the stage once Bill came on or I never would have got back & these guys were far to good to ever leave the stage. I am not sure what they played as an encore as I left shortly after it started to get an autograph that I never got. He did start off with Satisfaction & break into something. The setlist I got says I`m Ready - Hole In The Wall - Whiter Shade. I think he only played one song though unless it was a real short medley since he was saying they had water on the electric stuff & was afraid of getting fried.”

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW - LONDON (Ontario, Canada) (August 17th)
8/28/2001 10:27:29 AM
Thanks to Frank Goza

I had never seen the Kings before nor Bill in a small venue so I was very much looking forward to this show. I was not let down. In fact I really even got MUCH, MUCH MORE than I had even hoped for. The show began with Rita Chiarelli & her band. They were
great... Before Bill & the Kings came on the crowd was given a real surprise treat. We were introduced to Johnnie Johnson, the famed piano player who was with Chuck Berry for decades & last year was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Mr Johnson was joined on stage by another famed keyboard player, this one a member of the boogie-woogie Hall of Fame, Mr Bob Seeley. These two gentlemen took the stage & played several songs together, one where they both even used the same keyboard! It was a lot of fun to see the interplay of two such talented musicians.

At this point the crowd was primed & on came Bill & the band. Moving from right to left the first thing on the stage that
caught my eye was the red suit worn by Mike Sanchez & the matching red jacket on Martin Taylor. About a microsecond later Janice Hoyte & Beverly Skeete caught my eye with their great stage presence & wonderful appearance. Next I moved to Bill who was right smack in the middle of the stage. He looked very mellow & relaxed. With the short remark from Bill that went something like ‘we`ll have a lot of fun and music tonight so let`s get started. We`ll talk later’, the fun began. This eleven-piece band was primed for action.

The show began with two songs where Gary Brooker & Mike Sanchez alternated on lead vocals. You could immediately tell, this was going to be a good night. I knew Gary would be great but didn`t know much about Mike... At first I was bummed that Georgie wouldn`t be there since he`s such a great musician. Let me tell you, by the end of the night, & for that matter long before, Mike Sanchez had made a believer out of me! His non-stop energy & musical talent, as both a vocalist & keyboard player, were used to really get the crowd going. By the middle of the show the guy was dripping wet with sweat. Even Bill couldn`t resist poking fun at him as he lifted up his arms to show us that he had been able to maintain his cool.

The rest of the band also did their part to make certain that the crowd stayed fired up. Personally I loved the wonderful vocals of Beverly & Janice. Still, not to be outdone, Frank Mead was a wild man on sax. At times he came to the front of the stage where he played his heart out, at other times he rocked in unison with Nick Payn who also played sax & stood next to Frank. Nick also had his turn in front where he too did a great job on harp.

Throughout the night the interplay of the three guitars of Martin Taylor, Albert Lee & Terry Taylor was superb. All three have their own unique styles but put them together under Bill`s direction & watch magic happen. Of course throughout all of this Bill & Graham Broad provided the steady backbeat that helped keep everyone else solidly on track.

Another big surprise occurred when Bill invited Johnnie Johnson on stage to join the band. Johnnie took Mike`s keyboard for a few songs & away they went. Johnnie & Martin got into some nice jamming together. For me the most fun was when the band did Route 66 with Johnnie doing the lead vocals. Here he managed to insert his own special verses that made everyone, even Bill, crack up just a bit. It was GREAT to see these Hall of Famers playing together.

The show that started shortly after 8:00 ended after 11:30! What a musical treat! We even got a great series of encores. For me though, the very best part was when after the show, as the band was taking their bows, Bill reached out into the crowd & shook a few hands, including mine! This is a show I will never forget. Bill thanks so VERY, VERY, much for coming to Windsor! All the best, your fan & friend.

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings - Manchester 4/7/01
Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings Manchester Bridgewater Hall 4/7/01.
(Support: Colin Hogkinson - bassist extraordinaire!)

Set List

Let The Good Times Roll
Jitter Bug Boogie
Walking One and Only
Jump, Jive and Wail
Melody
Love Letters
Anyway the Wind Blows
Chicken Shack Boogie
The Little Girl's Gone Rocking
Hit the Road Jack
Boom Boom
Baby Workout
I put a spell on you
Tell You a Secret
Mystery Train
Breaking up the House
Tear It Up
Encores
Making Whoopee
I'm Ready
Hole in the Wall

That's the set list - classics, rock, swing, boogie - let's face it this band are so good they can play anything. Bill even threw in a magical illusion! The band ooze talent and Bill cracked that Mike Sanchez oozed buckets of sweat too!!. Brought in for the absent Gary Brooker, Mike was fabulous, he kept the audience and the band entertained with his antics and his writhing on the floor, make no mistake, this bloke can REALLY play and sing. The two young lady vocalists, Beverly and Janice, look good, sing good and move good!
The rest of the band are veterans, they provide a tightly knit unit, unselfishly backing each other and then soloing to perfection and playing off each other delightfully. Superlatives are easy to write but some of this was virtuoso stuff. Beverly on "I put a spell on you", Martin, Georgie and Beverly on "Making Whoopee",
Terry's Les Paul slide guitar on "Love Letters", Albert and Martin on "Tear It Up" - but that's not fair - I can't single anyone out.
Frank and Nick on Horns were superb again and their dance routines are getting better! Graham is one of the best drummers around and of course, Georgie Fame is a National treasure.
They threw in "Boom Boom" and dedicated it to John Lee Hooker and the late great Chet Atkins who both recently passed away, Bill apologised in advance in case they messed it up, no worries - as I said at the beginning - this band can play anything. Let's wish them success on their American and European dates and hope that they are back on the road in the UK soon.

Reviewers: Alan Powell + Alaistair McInnes

 

 

 

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Southampton (review by Pauline Brown)

"Fabulous entertainment in Southampton at The Mayflower last night. Support by Tommy Emmanuel certainly set the tone of the taste of things to come with an astonishing performance.

The Rhythm Kings were all wonderful performers in their own right.

To see Georgie Fame was really very special. Fabulous Berverly Skeete & Janice Hoyte together surely amazing. Being 'sung at' by Mike Sanchez was one of the many highlights of this very enjoyable show.
Many congratulations to 'laid back legend' Bill Wyman for putting together so many great artistes.

Have booked to enjoy one more time in Salisbury for July 3rd. Warmest good wishes for the rest of the tour."

 

 

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Brentwood (review by Eileen Tye)

"Once again many grateful thanks for another brilliant show. We attended last year's show at the Ipswich Regent (having been unable to make the first gig in 1990), & I wrote to you afterwards to express profound appreciation for a marvellous evening. In fact a friend has recently shown me that my letter has the honour of featuring on your web-site in respect of that show.

I must write again in similar & equal appreciation of this year's show. You've all managed to emulate last year's performance. Another absolutely wonderful evening of fundamental, earthy R&B & Rock & Roll, played by a group of musicians (instrumentalists & singers) who 'live' the music & can share this experience with their audience. Thank you, all of you.

Being what is now considered by the present younger generations, as a 'geriatric', I wish that they could be there to discover what can happen when a few truly & profoundly talented musicians share a superb & memorable evening's music with their audience. I was initially disappointed to discover that Gary Brooker would not be appearing in the show, but although I still want to see
Gary with the band again, I have to say that Mike Sanchez was an inspired 'deputy'.

Where on earth did you find him? He's amazing - what energy, artistry, commitment, communication & lunacy!

Needless to say, you Bill, Georgie, Albert, Terry, Martin, Graham, Frank, Nick, Beverley & Janice were all utterly brilliant. It must get boring hearing that - but it's true. I've attended many live shows over the last 38 years, at varying sizes & types of venue, but nothing compares to the feeling you all manage to convey to, & evoke from, your audience. Many thanks - long may these tours continue (although I understand that you will only keep on with the set-up as long as you all enjoy it).

Yours, with thanks.

PS. Hope you do Ipswich again next year.

Brentwood Centre was quite the most uncomfortable seating (with less leg-room han a charter flight) that I have ever had the misfortune to experience! (Admittedly I'm a rheumatoid-arthritic geriatric - but I've never been in so much pain in so many places for such a long time!)

Never mind - the show made it worth all the agony."

 

 

 

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Brentwood (review by Gary Boyes)

"Just a quick resume & thoughts of the `Essex Boys` (& girls) that went to the gig at Brentwood last Friday (1st). You may remember us from last year; We are the ones that disturbed your `Pizza Express` meal for autographs!!
(Thanks!!) Quite simply FANTASTIC!!! You made a comment about the `Audience seeming younger this year` & `This is the kind of music we used to play !!'

Is it any wonder??!

Brilliant music performed by musicians free of `Ego`! (Well OK, Mike & Frank excluded here!) I shall give you a full review of the tour when I`ve been to Lewisham (tonight), Norwich, Canary Wharf & Manchester!! Can`t guarantee it will be un-biased as I`ve seen the band 5 times on the 2000 tour & just keep coming back for more & more!

I have also followed Mike Sanchez for a number of years (Both solo & Big Town Playboys) so maybe knew what to expect, but the comments I have heard from colleagues in the audience confirm that he is a superb replacement for Gary Brooker.
Catch 22 situation now though, who do you leave out??!! Have you room for 3 keyboards??!!

So where do `The Rhythm Kings` go from here?! More recordings, more tours I hope! Though be sure to let me know if you do decide to stop touring - I am currently recruiting for a `Tribute to The Rhythm Kings` band!! So far we`ve got the Bass, Drums, Guitar & myself on Tenor!!! Any chance of attending a rehearsal??!! I shall enjoy tonight!! Full review to follow! Regards"

 

 

 

 

June 2001 – Canary Wharf – Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings
Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Canary Wharf (review by Gary Boyes & Trevor Jarrett)

"Having now seen The Rhythm Kings tour on five occasions this year (Reading, Brentwood, Lewisham, Norwich & Canary Wharf) here`s a quick review of thoughts thus far. Canary Wharf for us was the best so far, although you felt the sound was not up to standard, for us, the audience, the sound was the best we have heard so far. We were fortunate in being able to `barge` our way near to the front, in a central position.

The opening number, Let The Good Times Roll always sets the mood for the evening & I believe Clive said at Norwich, `We can`t think of a better number to open our shows with!'
Keep with it! It`s still working!

Mike does Chicken Shack Boogie better than anyone, (missed this when you played at Brentwood)!! Tell You A Secret let`s Sanch get up off his backside for at least 10 minutes (we can never understand how he manages to sit down in a reserved manner for so long
during gigs!!!) Keep it going, it`s a major factor of the show.
Breakin' Up The House & Hole In The Wall are sung & played with such energy, as good as Gary Brooker on the original cuts. As for the rest, well Janice is absolutely gorgeous & has a voice to go with it, Beverley is just magic & Nick & Frank look like they`ve been taking dancing lessons from Pans People. Rock steady Terry just keeps doing it & gets involved in everything, why doesn`t he sing a solo? Albert & Martin are just the best ever at what they do & Graham keeps it all moving along to perfection.

The guy with the dark brown & battered organ seems to know what he`s doing, what a find!! Oh nearly forgot, Bill, you are just great, how come when you do 15 minutes of Hit The Road Jack you don`t get bored playing the same riff? Having seen you 5 times this year it is great to see some of you talking with the crowd before the gigs, can`t understand though, why Frank was offering some crazy woman with a guitar, free tickets & a back stage pass at Canary Wharf, she wasn`t that good looking!!! We are still hoping to make Mike`s final gig in Manchester, if we can get good tickets! Are you sure there is no way you can keep him in the band when Gary returns? Keep on playing, you are all just the best, send you a final review after Manchester. See you there."

 

 

 

 

Cologne, Germany (review by Arno Kluenter, Cologne, Germany)

Bill & his Rhythm Kings came onstage 8.10 p.m. The first thing surprising was the fact Gary Brooker was missing (same as the night before in Hamburg).

His subsitute was a young guy looking a bit like Elvis - his name is Mike Sanchez.

He did a real good job, I think, giving the band an even more boogie and R`n`R -mood. The way he plays and acts onstage is totally different than Gary Brooker does; more like Jerry Lee Lewis.

The set - as below - took us thru parts of all the Rhythm Kings albums in nearly 2 hours gig of great music. My personal highlights were "Mystery Train" (phantastic Sax and Harmonica by Nick Payn), the wonderful Beverley Skeete doing vocals on "Melody" and performing the new single "Love letters".

All thru the set Martin Taylor and Albert Lee did - once more - great guitar work with some phantastic solos. As always, Georgie Fame made his jokes. When the band came back on stage to give the encores Bill was missing and Georgie said "sorry, there is an old guy called Bill Wyman who first nees to finish his cigarette backstage". I was lucky enough to meet Bill & the band backstage after the concert.

One of the things I asked Bill was why Gary Brooker was missing. He told me that he is off the band for only a few days as he is doing a few "memorial" gigs with his old band "Procol Harum". After that - off course - he will return to the Rhythm Kings continuing the tour. I also asked Bill about the problems they had here in Germany with the local promoter (see large article on bills website www.billwyman.com; tour 2001).

 

 

 

 

 

May 2001 - Malvern – Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Malvern
(review by Derek Ball)

"Malvern, 24th May - what a fantastic night of fabulous music from the Rhythm Kings, presented with verve, style, panache, humour & sheer skill! Particulartly noticeable is the way you promote the individual members of
the band & encourage them to project thier superb talents in their own inimitable style.

Also very obvious was the fact that all the band seemed to be enjoying themselves - having a good time & giving the audience a good time. Now that takes real class! One thing amazed me - with all the lights & razz-a-ma-tazz around you, however did you manage to spot a spider walking across the floor & trying to watch the show for free? I would not want to pick out any one member of the band, since all were truly marvellous... but!! I must mention Mike Sanchez - what a scream! (Your introduction of Mike was most amusing: "Gary can`t be here to-night, but we found this lunatic!").

I`ve seen Mike playing solo several times at The George Inn at Lower Brailles & he certainly does a memorable performance. (By the way, try to get to the George Inn sometime when there is live music on - a happy friendly time is guaranteed by the locals there.) You say in the Tour Programme that you want to send the crowd home with smiles on their faces.

After Malvern, I`m smiling & I think I will be for a very long time! Hope to see you all at Malvern again next year! Best wishes for the rest of the tour."

 

 

 

May 2001 - Zagreb – Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Zagreb (review by Jure Plahutnik)

"What a night! It definitly goes down to book. Being a huge Rolling Stones fan & bass player for a couple of years now, I just could't miss The Rhythm Kings concert in Zagreb. Me & two friends of mine took a long drive from Ljubljana (Slovenia) to Zagreb (Croatia) to see Bill playing live for the
first time. The night supposed to be special since live web broadcast of the concert was announced a few days before. And indeed it was!!!

After the support act finished the job, temperature on the spot rose every minute. And suddenly they were on, eleven musicians on the stage, including a master of the bass guitar. Bill addressed the audiance, stressed, that he had been at the very same place 25 years ago as a member of the Stones, & everybody just went crazy. Let the good times roll!

The good thing was, that there were no seats on the main floor, so people were swinging & dancing all the way... Bill looked great with his cool violet shirt & sun-glasses in the very same colour, very calm & concentrated on the rhythm & everything else, that was going on around the stage. What I like in his playing is the simplicity of his style, no jerking around, soloing or extra poseing. I also like his warm bottom bass sound, at low volume, but all over the place at the same time.

The band was great. Besides Bill, I especially liked the new guy Mike Sanchez. His incredible performance in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis & Litte Richard made everybody on the floor crazy. The guy puts so much energy in it, it's unbelievable. Beverly was sexy & hot, as was Albert Lee's guitar playing & singing on "I'm Ready".

The five cameras didn't seem to bother them at all. The band returned to the stage after receiving standing ovations & Bill thanked the audiance for one last time. After the show we met the band outside the hall & even took a photo with Bill & Albert Lee. At that moment everybody wanted to be on the picture, so there was nobody to take one. Bill then asked Terry Taylor to take one, which (thanks God) he did. Thank you very much for that Terry! I promised Bill & Mr Panico I'll come the next day to the Austrian gig in Graz, which I did & was strucked!

 

 

 

 

May 2001 - Reading – Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Reading (review by Peter Grattan)

"Rhythm Kings Are Top Of The Bill. Oh what a nite!! Wednesday May 23rd at the Hexagon in Reading is one I won't forget for a long while. I last saw Bill perform with his 'old band' in NZ in 1973, from my seat five rows back
from centre stage it seemed 'time was definitely on his side', he hadn't aged one bit!

From the moment he cruised onstage the sell-out crowd came to life, welcoming back an old friend. He said a few words, spoken from the heart, he was genuinely pleased to be there, looking very cool in black with his 'headless' bass which proved the perfect weapon to underpin the Rhythm Kings sound... & what a sound!! Two horns, two female singers, two keyboards & two guitarists... plus Graham Broad, 'the stix behind the Stone'. Being a drummer myself, Graham Broad was a dream to watch.

Understated, solid, totally complementing Bill's flowing bass-lines. GB was enjoying...! The horns were truly 'horny'! Sax-maniacs Frank Mead & Nick Payn played everything that one could put in one's mouth, including some great harp in 'Mystery Train'. Frank's upfront soloing brought to mind the antics of the great Dave Glyde of Sounds Incorporated, now based in Sydney. The guitars were awesome, 'taylor-made' for the Wyman sound.

Albert Lee was phenomenal, I've long been an admirer of his liquid licks... oh to be in a trio with Bill & him! New man on keys, Mike Sanchez was the consummate showman, having settled in in a fortnight of gigs thru Europe. A real lady-killer, Mike brought the house down on 'Secret'. His piano style was the perfect foil for Georgie Fame, grooving behind his trusty old organ. Georgie is truly a legend, especially so to this kiwi who wasn't able to see him in action thru the 60s & 70s.

He made his Hammond talk & his 'Melody' is a great song... c'mon Wogan, why not play this on Radio 2! Beverley Skeete, with Janice Hoyte looked & sounded incredible, I'd have loved to hear them duet with Bill on Green River or Je Suis, but he remained the silent one, not that he needed to do more than he did, the band is a credit to his vision & leadership.

Oz guitar wizard Tommy Emmanuel opened the show with half an hour of virtuoso playing & comedy banter. From 'Waltzing Matilda' & a Beatles medley to a percussion number where he hit everything in sight, Tommy wowed the crowd, a hard act to follow. I met Bill briefly back in 1989 when I was developing a nationwide Battle of the Bands Contest for TV called Banzai for Channel 4.

He impressed me as a friendly, genuine guy who loved his music. Sadly, the series didn't happen. If it had, it may well have led to a healthier 'live' music scene today. It's bands like the Rhythm Kings who keep the Heart 'n Soul of Rock 'n Roll beating... keep rolling Bill!"