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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Savoy Brown December 8 2011 Sellersville Theater - Greg Lewis - contributor -'Rock-it Science. Thursdays 8-10-PM 91.9 WNTI Hackettstown NJ

A near capacity crowd came to the show at this refurbished 1894  theater in Sellersville PA on a chilly December evening. Gauging from some of the pre show chatter most of them were longtime fans, who  know they will see some world class guitar playing from band leader Kim Simmonds at every Savoy Brown show. They got that and more with this latest version of the 45 years and running rocking blues band founded by Kim as a 17 year old in London. Who knew?
Joe Whiting vocals/sax/,Pat DeSalvo bass and Garnett Grimm drums, provided  a platform for some of Simmonds most inspired playing in his career. All of these guys are seasoned pros from the Syracuse area where Simmonds has resided for over twenty years. This has afforded Simmonds the opportunity to woodshed for his new CD 'Voodoo Moon' and rehearse often with his nearby band mates. The result of this is a new release that rivals any of Savoy Browns classics and an inspired fun show peppered with selections from the SB catalog not heard live in decades.
  This show had the band hitting the stage full throttle with 'Meet The Blues Head On' from 'Voodoo Moon' 'Immediately evident was Whiting's strong vocals, delivered with a smile, while trading off with Simmond's sweet but assertive guitar riffs from his Les Paul. Kim did not have his trademark  Gibson Flying V, though there was a miniature silver version hanging from a chain on his neck.
 Simmonds and Whiting have a great on stage chemistry. They were animated and smiling and really enjoying themselves all night. That is always infectious. Kim's guitar back and forth with Whiting's vocals and sax on top of the rock solid foundation DeSalvo and Grimm provided throughout the 2 hour performance made for a fun evening.
 What made this performance especially exciting was the treatment given to some older 'classic' songs from the band's past. Don't misread the fact that, had the band only performed selections from the new 'Voodoo Moon' release, it still would have been a great show. 'Natural Man', 'Shockwaves','She's Got The Heat','Round And Round' and 'Voodoo Moon' were the new songs played by the band. Simmonds showing that his songwriting chops are better then ever with these new originals by him. Whiting also assisted on a few of these and the songs  highlight their skills.
 One of Whitings assets is the confidence he has covering Savoy Brown classics that were performed by some of the band's iconic vocalists like Chris Youlden,Dave Peverett,Dave Walker and Jackie Lynton. Whiting embraced the spirit of these vocalists while not trying to imitate them. The second song of the evening was the title track from 1970's 'Looking In' that featured the great Lonesome Dave Peverett on vocals. [This was the band that would leave and become Foghat.] Whiting's vocals are a different pitch then the late Peverett's but he matched the power and attitude in a 2011 way on this song and  also later  with 'Louisiana Blues' from the Peverett era SB. Whiting belted out 'I'm Tired'  from the Chris Youlden SB  era with enthusiasm while not trying to emulate the husky baritone style of  Youlden. That was on the tail end of an excellent  three song  acoustic medley starting with Simmonds singing the Youlden classic 'Train To Nowhere' with an instrumental bridge of 'Gypsy' from the 'Looking In' album.       The rarely performed  'Jack The Toad' ,title track from a 1974 SB line up featuring the excellent UK vocalist Jackie Lynton, was a nice surprise. Whiting  also embraced this faithfully while not trying to imitate Lynton. Ironically, Lynton's style is similar in many aspects to Whiting's.
  'Time Does Tell', Wang Dang Doodle' and 'Hellbound Train' are all songs from SB's most commercially successful era with vocalist Dave Walker in the mid 1970's.  Whiting was on par with Walker's powerful charismatic performances of these tunes while not copying him on this fun night in Sellersville.
Whiting sits side by side with the great Savoy Brown vocalists like Youlden,Peverett,Walker, Pete Mc Mahon to name a few, in this fan's opinion. 
Make no mistake though, it is the unique style,grace and power of Kim Simmonds guitar playing that has made Savoy Brown one of the very best for over 45 years. I have had the pleasure of seeing many versions of the band since 1970 at the Fillmore East in NYC and I would rate this line up as one of the best. Then again, what do I know? :-} Hope to see you at a show in 2012.
Cheers, Greg Lewis 'Rock-it Science. Thursdays 8-10-PM 91.9 WNTI Hackettstown NJ

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