Friday night saw me attending a concert at the Playhouse Theatre in Norwich with a friend. Rockin’ in Rhythm - Paul Jones and Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen. And bloody good it was too!
I’ve been a fan of Paul Jones ever since 5-4-3-2-1. Yes I’m that old. I have seen him on a couple occasions before, with the Blues Band, he’s obviously known for his R& B background, but I’d never experienced him under the influence of Jazz.
Both halves of the show started off with Digby Fairweather and his Half Dozen playing a few tunes. I don’t mind a bit of Dixieland, with its foot-stomping rhythms. The only thing I object to with Trad is the persistent clapping that the audience expects and is expected to deliver at the end of each solo. I’m more than happy to clap enthusiastically at the end of a ditty, but not part way through. That said, I still enjoy Trad Jazz. This is more than I can say for its turgid Modern counterpart. Those nauseating noodlings by the likes of Theydon Bois and Brent Cross are not for me, even though Louis Balfour might think that they are great.
As soon as Paul Jones takes the stage the dynamic changes completely. Having seen him before, I knew he was shit-hot when it came to the gob-iron, but I really had forgotten how shit-hot he actually was. He didn’t need to sing. I could have listened to his harmonica playing all night long. But sing he did. Some obscure songs from some equally obscure Blues and Jazz artists, some of his own compositions the man’s a bloody good songwriter, and a few of his hits including Pretty Flamingo and Bad Bad Boy. Whilst Paul Jones had been the heart-throb of my companion in the sixties, Pretty Flamingo took me back to when, at the age of ten, I was desperately in love with Diane Evans. She was a pretty little nine year old who lived in the next close and would often wear a pink gingham dress. I would blush and go all silly whenever she came near. I never got to tell her how I felt about her, but that’s the story of my life. I wonder what ever happened to Diane Evans?
By the end of the first half I was beginning to think that the concert was somewhat Melly-esque. During the second half Paul Jones explained why. Now I’d seen George Melly on countless occasions, always backed by the John Chiltern Feet Warmers, but what I didn’t know was that Digby and gang had backed George for about the last five years of his life. Apparently Paul Jones had compèred a concert in honour of George Melly, which took place just before the great man’s death. Paul had sung a couple of songs at the concert along with Digby Fairweather. When George died, the band were still contracted to perform some concerts, so they asked Paul Jones to take over the vocal reigns. Hence this tour.
It was a first class evening with the finale being an elongated but fantastic version of one of Manfred Mann’s 1964 hits, with audience participation. A few hundred middle-aged gits, including me, singing Do Wah Diddy Diddy was a bit surreal but very pleasurable all the same.
As we left the Theatre I had a big smile on my face. Testament to what a great evening we’d had.