I ADMIT I had no high expectations of Deborah Bonham, younger sister of Led Zeppelin s late and very great John Bonham. Sharing a famous rock name could easily be a weight around an artist s neck if they fail
I ADMIT I had no high expectations of Deborah Bonham, younger sister of Led Zeppelin's late and very great John Bonham.
Sharing a famous rock name could easily be a weight around an artist's neck if they fail to live up to it - but Deborah truly did. Her style is not dissimilar to some of the dreamier soulful moments of her brother's legendary band.
Her flowing hair invokes the presence of Robert Plant as it flays around and falls across her face. Her guitarist plays a Gibson Les Paul, which as rock symbolism goes - is surely a tribute to Jimmy Page.
I found that Deborah's sheer soul and warmth of personality gave her an extremely likeable identity that is embellished, not obscured by her heritage. Her soulful voice was mesmerising and moving as she worked through both covers and originals and ended with a passionate version of Zep's Rock and Roll.
Seeing The Blockheads for the first time since the death of former leader Ian Dury was a bitter-sweet experience. Richard Paul and I were at his final concert at the London Palladium in February 2000 and we'll both tell you it was one of the best shows we've ever seen.
Without Ian, The Blockheads are still a very fun band with clever lyrics and impeccable playing. Bassist Norman Watt-Roy seems to lead the band live and it's hard to take your eyes from him as he twists and turns with his bass lines.
Dury's former minder and friend 'Derek The Draw' provides vocals and occasional percussion - but he's not lead singer. Importantly there seemed to be a microphone in front of everyone on stage and they sound best when they're all singing and shouting along together - it helps suggest the controlled rowdiness that they have always excelled at. Classics such as Clever Trevor, Reasons To Be Cheerful, and Billericay Dickie put big, lasting smiles on a lot of faces.
From stage Norman Watt-Roy announces that they're likely to be visiting Cambridge later in the year - I highly recommend attending.
The final band of the night, Frankie Miller's Full House Band intrigued me very much.
Frankie Miller is considered by many to be one of Britain's greatest ever singers and songwriters - but sadly he has been learning to walk and talk again since a near-fatal brain haemorrhage struck him down in the late 1990s. So, while this was indeed his Full House Band - Frankie watched from a wheelchair in the crowd.
The musicianship was excellent in a bluesy, Stonesy fashion, but perhaps my lack of knowledge of the material failed to entice me in further. Singer Paul Cox commands a powerful, punchy voice, but despite all the respect he gave to the material I think I wanted something more than a tribute.
I enjoyed the rougher, though rare, vocal turns by guitarist Henry McCullough. Just to look at him you'd know he has a thousand stories to tell - he was a member of the first incarnation of Wings and even made a 'vocal contribution' to Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon while recording with McCartney's band at Abbey Road.
I imagine Roger Waters put a tape recorder in front of him and asked him if he was afraid of dying, crazy or the like.
It's great to see musicians of this calibre and personality and Rockinbeerfest seems intent on filling its stage with them.