Ronnie Wood & Imelda May withnthe Ben Waters Band

Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood on stage at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne. Photo by Allan Jones of Rockstar Images.

Ben Waters and Ronnie Wood: Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne. Tuesday 13th November, 2018.

Blues ‘n'boogie piano virtuoso Ben Waters was as surprised as anyone when his old mate the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood agreed to head down to Dorset to run through material for their upcoming show at London’s Ronnie Scott’s

Surveying the audience at the Tivoli Theatre last night, the keyboards man looked incredulous as he said: “I can’t believe this is happening in Wimborne, can you?” Well… Given that Tivoli manager Charlie North Lewis’s has a habit of persuading real-live Rolling Stones to play at his 500 seat theatre, it wasn’t that surprising at all. He’s already played host to three gigs by Charlie Watts and one by Mick Taylor. In fact having Ronnie join Ben and his band (including Ben’s 18-year-old saxophonist son Tom) on the Tivoli stage to celebratie the music of iconic rock ’n’ roller Chuck Berry seemed pretty well par for the course.

What a night! It kicked off with an excellent acoustic set by Nine Below Zero front men Dennis Greaves and Mark Feltham. Just guitar and harmonica playing brilliant blues with a touch of gospel and even country thrown in.It was the perfect opener for Dorset born and bred Waters, his six piece band and his special guests. Ronnie Wood arrived on stage in style wearing a grey jacket, white shirt, black skinny jean, sparkling shoes and a broad grin.

Strapping on his guitar, the 71-year-old veteran launched into Berry’s inimitable back catalogue storming through the numbers that inspired a generation of rockers. With Waters playing the role of Johnnie Johnson - Berry’s brilliant keyboards man - and Ronnie conjuring up the licks that, directly or indirectly, launched a thousand hits, we were witnessing a masterclass. Roll Over Beethoven,  Little Queenie, Johnny B. Goode, Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, No Particular Place to Go, Route 66 and many more. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better the whole gig was cranked up a notch with the addition of singer Imelda May whose powerful voice opened up the opportunity to explore some of the nuance in Berry’s clever and complex lyrics.

This show was a wonderful tribute to Berry who died last year aged 90. A masterful showcase for some of our finest musicians and a whole lot of fun – a brilliant evening all round. Ronnie Scott’s Club in London is in for a treat tonight and tomorrow (Wednesday 14th & Thursday 15th November).

Jeremy Miles



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