“Gigs Guaranteed To Be A Good One”:
On a cold night in Edinburgh, a pretty well-packed Voodoo Room welcomed from the very south of England the blues, folk, Americana rootsy rock band Wille And The Bandits. The gig was one put on by The Edinburgh Blues Club who often manage to attract bluesy bands to the capital that we might not get. The venue is a beautiful, ornate room that holds around 200 folk. There were seats near the front and the rest was standing. All the seats were taken and the back standing was very busy. The Blues Club is one folk can join, and you don’t need to be a member to attend a gig, although sometimes it is necessary if you want a ticket. To help raise funds to attract better bands the club runs raffles at gigs leading to Matthew Partridge drummer of Wille And The Bandits remarking at one point “any gig with a raffle is going to be a good one“, to which Wille replied “they raffled your drums” to much laughter. Yes, it was that kind of night with banter as well as great music. The band themselves are able to switch around on instruments when required with Matthew Gallagher the keyboard player chopping and changing during the set including guitar, bongos and tambourine when required. Wille moved between electric and acoustic guitars, along with box guitar, and steel slide which allows a variety of sounds and moods.
The band took the stage with Wille on said box guitar and they hit us with a groovy rocking bluesy track called “Jack The Lad” which has almost a rap vocal. It was a kick-arse start to the show. They kept the tempo up by following up with “Refuge” from their latest album When The World Stood Still (review of album HERE, and yes I kept putting an extra “i” in the name, sorry) with its “yeah, yeah” vocal singalong which folks around me were joining in with. “Still Go Marching In” led to some fine community singing. The refrain of “when will that rainbow come” being almost spiritual gospel in style. The interplay musically between Wille on 6-string electric (with a slide) and Matthew on keys was excellent, sometimes to and fro and at other points harmonizing. In fact, the keys were so important to the sound throughout. The band like to “get funky” at points during the show. The first time was for the very groovy “Keep It On The Down-Low” which had folks dancing in the aisles around the seats. Matthew started out on bongos adding to the tribal rhythm going down (low) before heading back behind his keyboards. Wille changed between soloing on steel slide and 6-string electric as the song progressed, with only a keyboard solo breaking up the two. The rhythm section does a fabulous job all night keeping it all together, tight and groovy as the guys solo.
Before “Mammon” there is plenty chat, most of it funny and light-hearted, the audience seeming to lap it up and even the odd person joining in. It seems drummer Matthew Partridge is a bit of a comedian winding up Wille suggesting that he seems to have family that comes from everywhere after Wille had said his dad came from near Edinburgh from a place called South Queensferry. This got cheers and boos leading Matthew to remark “well you split the audience there“. Again much laughter ensued. There was a couple of fun moments in “Mammon“, firstly when something happened onstage (I didn’t spot what it was) and suddenly Wille and Matthew Gallagher were laughing over at each other showing the good vibe in the group and secondly when the crowd started cheering and clapping only to find out the band hadn’t actually finished the song. They did a lovely A cappella thing at the end which took the audience unaware. Again the band were laughing.
During “4 Million Days” Wille knocked something off his steel slide only to have someone at the front quickly retrieve it and put it back much to the delight of the frontman. Of course, it didn’t put anyone off. The ending of gentle keys and cymbals was delightful. The longest track of the night was one that we were told was written for his deceased mum (she sadly died a few years ago), “Angel“. This was a tour de force which seems improvised each time. Tonight it went from gentle acoustic to tribal with both drums and bongos pounding away, back to plaintiff keyboards and guitar which was beautiful. He used the mike to moan, wail and cry at one point adding to the emotional drama. Powerful, intense and totally captivating, this held the crowd’s attention throughout. Absolutely wonderful stuff.
Groove Ridden Monster:
As we got nearer the end the band picked up the pace again firstly with “Victim Of The Night” which got folks back up and dancing. Wille told the crowd that they would be at the merch table after the show if anybody wanted to say hi, he pointed out it was next to the bar. As quick as a flash Matthew Partridge said “good place to sell merch in Scotland, beside the bar” which caused laughter (he has a point). Keeping folks dancing the band threw out “1970” which is a party-type track, a rocker dedicated to of course 70s rock music. A great 4-minute rock/pop song that is very catchy. They end the main set with “Bad News” which is a groove-ridden monster of a song. It starts quiet but when it kicks in it does so like a mule. Even more folks by this point were dancing and understandable as it felt impossible not to move to it. It was a fine end to the main set. Of course, they came back on and did another couple of bluesy rockers in “Good Stuff” and “Make Love” which was introduced as “funky time“. They weren’t lying. By the time they finished, the crowd were still cheering and chanting for more. Terrific performance all round.
The support on the night was the singer and songwriter known as Stoney Broke from Dumfries on the southwest coast of Scotland. He explained how happy he was to be doing all the headliner’s Scottish shows. He remarked that the guys were great to work with, really nice blokes which as he said makes the job much more pleasant. He joked he was kind of at the “edge of blues” but what he did went down very well with the crowd. The fact he has quality songs and a bonhomie personality makes him an engaging and enjoyable listen. It was just him and a guitar (well 2 as he changed at one point) along with a pedal board which allowed him to play a riff, copy it, put that through the speakers and then he could solo. The solos sounded like an electric guitar but it was on acoustic. I particularly enjoyed the high note he hit and sustained on “Too Late” an infectious number with a lovely riff. The title of his new EP It’s Not You, he explained was written during lockdown as an “insecure show off” he just had to write something. That got quite a few laughs. His self-deprecating humour going over well. “Sunrise To Sunset” was lovely (and before he got started he did a great catch of his acoustic when the strap went). He finished his set with cover(s), those being the Mamas And Papas “California Dreamin’” which merged into Jimi Hendrix‘s version (or close to it) of “All Along The Watchtower” where he at points combined lyrics from one into the other. It was clever as well as rocking and it went over well with the “romantics and reprobates of Edinburgh” as he called us all. Excellent work by a one-man act who captivated the audience on the night.
Wille And The Bandits continue their tour through the UK in March. To find out more and to buy tickets please check this LINK. Highly recommended.
Wille And The Bandits Official Facebook
Stoney Broke Official Website // Official Facebook
Wille and the Bandits | Keep it on the down-low | Live | The Kernow Sessions
The fourth track from our “Kernow sessions” live album is a re-working of “Keep it on the down-low”. It features the awesome Chris Haddon on guitar and Helm DeVegas on Rhodes and includes a huge jam in the middle. Official website: https://www.willeandthebandits.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/willeandthebandits.official Twitter: https://twitter.com/WATBandits Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/willeandthebandits
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