MIKE SANCHEZ and his Band - REVIEWS
Worcester Evening News
22nd November 2002 / Mike Sanchez and his Band
Huntingdon Hall, 21st November 2002
Take some extract of Little Richard, essence of Jerry Lee Lewis, place it in the cooking pot… and stir in the rich, gravy tones of Ruth Brown. Then add a sprinkling of Roy Milton, topping the whole lot off with a generous shot of Larry Williams. What have you got? I’ll tell you. It’s the hottest rhythm and blues groove this side of Kansas City. And you’d better believe it.
Dressed in one of his many garish stage suits, the Bossman of Boogie is sweating from the first number in, staccato piano figures firing from the stage like a machine gun stuck on the rapid-fire notch.
Part Latin gigolo, part rockabilly hellcat, Sanchez is phenomenal. Such is his power that the sidesmen lurk reverently in the shadows, each one neatly punctuating this keyboard-led onslaught with taste and finesse.
And what a band. Led by Al Nicholl’s rasping sax, the formidable Harlem Horn underpin the proceedings, harnessing the great man’s relentlessly pounding keyboard, while Al ‘Slap Happy’ Gare (double bass) and Mark Morgan anchor the beat. But it is the spiky, edgy Fender guitar lines supplied by Andy Silvester that confirm the authenticity of the Sanchez band. There are no endless, tedious Clapton-esque journeys up to 12th and 14th frets – this is sparse, smoky blues guitar played as the Devil intended.
As for the numbers, they spoke for themselves, testimony to the immoral music of the American ghetto. Blue Boy, Breathless, Every Day, Every Night… Love My Baby, Fast Train. These are songs that wear thumping hearts on their sleeves, facing the world in all their glorious directness and simplicity.
And their greatest living ambassador must be Mike Sanchez – the rocking and reeling alley cat from deepest Worcestershire whose music never fails to set our feet tapping and pulses racing to what surely must be the biggest, meanest beat in town.
Tales from the woods
Mike Sanchez and his Band
100 Club, London – July 14th 2001
Forgive me, dear reader, if this review seems a bit vague and disjointed but the show of which I’m about to write took place on a night designated for my 43rd birthday celebrations and, with considerable help from my friends Bud Weiser and Stella Artois I ermm… celebrated and ended up vague and disjointed myself. Don’t blame me – blame the remarkable Mike Sanchez and his band for being so… well, bloody brilliant at London’s swinging and fabled ‘100 Club’ in the centre of Oxford Street on the evening of July 14th.
I began jotting down song titles at the start of the first set but, once ‘I done got rhythm’n’blues, I threw my crutches down’ as a certain rockabilly legend used to say. With a line-up of the superlative and criminally underrated Andy Silvester on guitar, Al Nicholls on tenor sax, Nick Lunt on baritone sax, Al Gare on devastating double bass and driving drummer Mark Morgan, Sanchez’s unit boasts some pretty mighty muscle. So for two hours (in the form of two one-hour sets) a fair sized audience were treated to some real hot rockin’ party music with the highly talented pianist, singer and guitarist as your host, dressed conservatively in a bright red zoot suit.
The first set opened with three real mortar shells ‘Driftin’, ‘Undecided Fool’ and ‘Tell Me Who’ then, just when you wish he’d let you pause for breath, he hits you with Brook Benton’s ‘Hurtin’ Inside’. Sod the notebook, I thought – just dance! ‘Hurtin’ Inside’ was one of a number of songs Mike performed from his new CD Blue Boy, reviewed elsewhere in these pages. Using this and Mike’s last CD Just Can’t Afford It as reference points, I’ll try and piece together what songs were played after this point. ‘3 Months, 3 Weeks, 3 Days’, a Sanchez composition, is a highlight of the Just Can’t Afford It CD and our hero chalked up another fine version. Mike then strapped on the Strat and it was time for a little Sun rockabilly in the form of Hayden Thompson/ Junior Parker’s ‘Love My Baby’ afterwards raising the temperature a little higher as we heard a new song from the new CD, another original composition, entitled ‘Fast train’ which positively ROCKED! I tell you readers, this is the only way to travel. Other songs performed from the Blue Boy CD were Ruth Brown’s ‘I Wanna Do More’, Young Jessie’s ‘Well Baby’ and ‘Someday (When I’m Gone From You)’ – in which Mike did more with this song than Bobby Vee ever could – plus storming versions of the Killer’s ‘It’ll Be Me’ and Big Danny Oliver’s ‘Sapphire’ which certainly made this scribe get off his ample tush and boogie (as a close friend will confirm). From the Big Town Playboy days we heard ‘Deep In The Heart Of Texas’, a Geraint Watkins song which has been recorded by Dave Edmunds, ‘Big Fat Mama’ (complete with a little audience participation) and the standard show closer Slim Harpo’s ‘Shake Your Hips’. For an encore, Mike and the boys gave an appreciative nod to the late Tommy Ridgeley with an all out assault on ‘Jam Up’.
Job done! Happy audience, happy birthday boy! I can only conclude this account by citing Mike Sanchez as the finest, most exciting, most entertaining artist in British rhythm and blues today. He replicates rhythm and blues and rockabilly styles with nothing less than 100% authenticity and his work rate is phenomenal (he seems to sweat buckets every performance! because he’s sooo horny). His next visit to the ‘100 Club’ will be on Saturday September 22nd – see you there, sober or not!
Mike Sanchez and his Band
100 Club, London
Playboy Sanchez Takes Centre Stage
After a long wait, Mike Sanchez brought his new band to London.
Mike Sanchez, former front man with The Big Town Playboys, returned to the London stage on Friday 15th December 2000 with his new band. After 15 years with The Playboys, a packed 100 Club in London's West End were eager to see and hear his new combo.
Mike Sanchez: Pianist, guitarist, vocalist, showman!
Dressed in a bright red suit, with suitably baggy trousers, the showman made the crowd wait until 9.40pm before making his appearance on stage. Together with a six-piece band that included Slap Happy from King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys on double bass, and Al Nichols of Blue and Little Harlem on saxophone, the sound showed a departure from the Playboys mix. With another sax, trumpet, guitar and drums, the line-up had the look of a jump-jive outfit - and that's what it was, with some blues thrown in as well.
From the opening number, Undecided Fool, Sanchez set out his stall for all to hear. Moving between keyboard, guitar and singing duties proved effortless for the man. His ability to hover just above the piano stool as he both played and sang was a wonder to behold!
The first set included Hurtin' Inside (from his new untitled CD), Three Months Three Weeks Three Days and a song about Texas, before Sanchez closed out with a couple of Buddy Holly numbers. Someday and Brown Eyed- Handsome Man had them jigging in the small areas still available for dancing. The latter numbers saw the brass section getting in some bar time as the band onstage continued as a four-piece, with Sanchez on guitar.
After an inordinately long break, the musicians returned for more. Once again, the sound of blues and jump-jive filled the room, all delivered in a style that had shades of Elvis, Jerry Lee and Chick Berry - not a bad lot of influences to have. Looking For You kicked off the proceedings, and was followed by some Playboy favourites like Glamour Girl, and some originals like Coal Miner and Messed With An Angel from his solo CD Just Can't Afford It. A couple of the numbers were not so much influenced but more like rewrites of Presley's Mystery Train and Little Richard's Lucille.
The rapport established with the crowd held throughout the evening, but was almost strained to breaking point when Sanchez suddenly and inexplicably had a Jim Reeves moment. Onlookers were somewhat stunned as he launched into what was obviously a personal favourite, but was at odds with the mood of the rest of the evening. However, it was a momentary aberration, and he was forgiven by the end of the next number.
Sanchez had played at The Excel Club in East Finchley the previous Sunday, but that was a short solo set with piano. Tonight with his band, he found an audience full of friends and Playboy fans (the band, not the magazine), and was on a winner all the way - Jim Reeves moment excluded. With the departure of Ray Gelato to The States, the return of the showman is indeed a timely one.
Review: Mike Sanchez Band
The Townsend Hall, Shipston-on-Stour, Sept 25th 2000
Since leaving the Big Town Playboys, Mike Sanchez seems to be creating a name for himself nationwide, and not at least in the deepest South Warwickshire countryside - he plays solo gigs regularly at The George Hotel, Lower Brailes, which is just up the road from Shipston-on-Stour. His performance brought to life an uninspired piece of 60s architecture and it was difficult to believe that the WI had been holding their Saturday Market there only hours before, as a full house of over 250 were captivated by the Sanchez magic. This performance followed one by the same line-up in June in the Market Square, when the local electrical shop became a dressing room. The proprietor was amazed at the end of the gig not only to get his shop back but sell a substantial amount of electrical goods to the band.
Sanchez played a mixture of old standards and his own newer material, some of which will be appearing on his new CD, which reflects the authentic sound of fifties rhythm'n'blues. Highlights included Junior Parker's 'Love My Baby', Tarheel Slim's 'Wildcat Tamer' and a great version of Bobby Vee's 'Someday'. His renderings of Benton/ Otis' 'Kiddio' and Chuck Berry's 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man' got the crowd on their feet. He plays more guitar than he did with the Playboys and it shows that he has been working on his technique.
He finished the evening playing guitar lying on his back in the middle of the audience surrounded by hot dancers. He is a past master at working an audience with his contorted facial expressions (particularly in 'I'm Mad') and with his famous eye-to-eye contact.
The band consisted of the legendary Andy Silvester on guitar (Big Town Playboys, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Steve Gibbons), Anders Janes on double bass (Ray Gelato's Giants) and Mark Morgan on drums (currently still working with the Playboys). Mike Sanchez is a superb all round performer and with a regular band behind him can only get better.