The Arc, Stockton
I saw Wilko Johnson in Shidlon last November; he seemed to finish one tour and start another one almost immediately. Recent releases of a Dr Feelgood box set (All Through the City) and Wilko's autobiography (Looking Back At Me) will doubtless benefit from the publicity generated by the tour and we all get to see him more frequently, so it's a win/win situation.
The Arc is a very intimate venue but I think it was a mistake to make the floor area all-seated; people like to dance when Wilko is in town. However, that was only a minor matter and it was an extremely enjoyable evening of blues and rock 'n' roll.
Virgil and the Accelerators opened the show; they were at the Guisborough Blues Festival last year. Everything is still turned up to eleven - their style is a sort of blues/metal fusion.
After a short break, the stage door burst open and three black-clad musicians took to the stage in determined fashion.
With a cheery 'Good evening!', Wilko strapped on his guitar and launched straight into the opening number.
As usual, Wilko was accompanied by Dylan Howe (drums) and the legendary Norman Watt-Roy (bass).
The band were an even tighter unit than last time and Wilko's machine-gunning guitar antics were once again utilised very effectively. The tracks were delivered with the pace of a bullet too; there was a bare minimum of chat and most of the songs followed each other directly, with hardly ever even the briefest of pauses.
All Through the City
If You Want Me, You’ve Got Me
The More I Give
Going Back Home
Roxette (this brought the biggest cheer of the night)
You Shouldn’t Call a Doctor
When I’m Gone (featuring a lengthy bass solo)
Don’t Let Your Daddy Know (including introductions and lengthy solos by all concerned - this song lasted nearly 17 minutes)
Back in the Night
She Does it Right
The encore started with the wise words of Wilko:
'Well we’ve obviously got a very intellectual audience in here tonight, so we’d like to leave you with some jazz…'
There followed a few quick riffs and rolls from the bass and drums respectively before Wilko mouthed ‘my turn’ and, just as he did at Shildon, he launched into a lengthy (15 minute!) version of...
Bye Bye Johnny
There was still time for a second encore...
'We have time for one more for the road, and this is about the most famous road in rock ‘n’ roll’' which was, of course:
Then it was ‘Goodnight – thank you!’ and the blistering evening really was over. Come back soon, Wilko!
Meanwhile, here's a few more photos from an excellent show...