Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings


Bill Wyman

By Jeremy Miles

The first time Bill Wyman played Poole he was less than impressed with the reception he received. 

The It was 1963 and his band, a virtually unknown bunch of scruffs called The Rolling Stones, had been booked to play a dance. “It was full of hooligans with beer bottles. It wasn’t a pleasant evening.” recalled the bassman.

 He admits he hasn’t a clue where it was. “Probably pulled down long ago.” 

But an uneasy memory clearly  persists and, on Friday, as he stepped onto a Poole stage for only the second time in his life, Wyman surveyed the rather sedate Lighthouse audience and joked:  “I hope this evening is going to be a bit better.” 

He needn’t have worried. The only things that got thrown at the stage were compliments as his excellent touring band The Rhythm Kings leapt into action with a set that paid loving tribute to a rich vein of music that covered everything from the blues of the Mississippi delta and the streets of Chicago to the rock ‘n’ roll of Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent. 

Somewhere in between they visited jazz, boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues  and a whole lot of soul. But as former Supremes vocalist Mary Wilson was their special guest this was perhaps hardly surprising. 

Wyman’s band features an astonishing collection of talents. There’s Georgie Fame on organ, Geraint Watkins on piano, Graham Broad on drums, Terry Taylor and Albert Lee on guitars, Frank Mead and Nick Payn on horns, the wonderful Beverley Skeete on vocals and Wyman himself on bass.

It’s a rare line-up that can blaze through a Supremes song like Stop In The Name of Love, chill out with a Mose Allison number or get the house up and grooving to the Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman.

Marred only by a slightly soupy sound, this was a night for having fun.

There were anecdotes galore. Chuck Berry may be an iconic rock ’n’ roller but in Wyman’s book he’s “a nasty piece of work”. We heard how Gene Vincent had taught a 16-year-old Clive Powell, aka Georgie Fame, how to do an autograph and learnt first-hand how The Everley Brothers left an indelible mark on their longtime sideman Albert Lee.  

The magic of Don and Phil was revisited with spine-tingling results in what for me was actually the best performance of the evening, a beautifully stripped down version of So Sad which found Lee playing piano while duetting with Beverley Skeete accompanied only by Terry Taylor on guitar. 

The show ended with Wilson leading the band (and audience) in a rousing encore - the Motown anthem Dancing in the Streets. Ten minutes later some happy audience members were doing just that. 

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2017