“Ain’t gonna quit ya, get the picture?” sings an on song Phil May and, billed as the final Pretty Things electric show, we can take it that this isn’t the end of the line for these legends from the Dartford Delta. That’s right, Dartford where that other 60s R ‘n’ B band The Rolling Stones burnished their blues into global superstardom.
It’s a well known fact that the connections between both The ‘Things and The ‘Stones go as far back as a callow Dick Taylor and Mick Jagger jamming together in Taylor’s family home. From this embryonic musical coupling The Rolling Stones were born and The Pretty Things, too, all due to Taylor’s burning desire to play the guitar and not the bass.
As the bad boys of the British R ‘n’ B boom, The Pretty Things were without question the best and most dangerous group of all to emerge from this pivotal movement; as the first of this evening’s three sets demonstrated.
Setting the scene with a sizzling run of standards: Honey, I Need, Don’t Bring Me Down, Buzz The Jerk and Bo Diddley’s Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut, tonight’s sold-out Indigo revelled in a banging purple patch from this well-seasoned band with Dick Taylor’s grit in the oyster distorted riffs driving the set along.
Slipping into their psych body of work, a fuzz buzzy Alexander (recorded under their Electric Banana pseudonym) soared to open part two, to be followed by the slightly camp and corny musical bluster of Defecting Grey. Further displaying their full musical range and control over styles, the awesome swing of Midnight To Six Man morphed into a dreamy take on Mr Evasion, after which you couldn’t hear a bean-counter drop during the euphoric end to this incendiary first set.
However, there were more surprises in store in the shape of a couple of legendary guests.
Ask most sentient aficionados of psychedelia what album is of crucial importance and enduringly loved and rock opera SF Sorrow would nearly always be the first title on their lips; the more expansive power psych rock of Parachute would be mentioned in the same breath, too.
Bringing the original recording band members Skip Allen, Wally Waller and John Povey on to play along with the current group’s steady and excellent backing band, Phil May led the way breaking into Scene One, from Parachute, before Dick Taylor picked out the twisty guitar intro to SF Sorrow itself.
In effect, having two bands onstage created a wall of sound as Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour brought his long shadow onto the stage. Plugging into a Gibson (rare, given his Fender Strat inclinations) he power riffed into the sonic head-charge of She Says Good Morning.
A visibly happy Gilmour remained throughout to blast out power chords on Baron Saturday, Trust, I See You and a frenzied Cries From The Midnight Circus.
If the first set accentuated Rhythm, then the third and final set nailed the Blues.
With the vim and vigour of their 60s selves, and joined by an almost incognito black aviator shades and pork-pie hat wearing Van Morrison, the band launched into Baby, Please Don’t Go. Busying himself to deliver an awesome vocal on a very rare outing of this Them classic, Morrison rolled back the years and remained to beautifully bellow out two Bo Diddley standards: I Can Tell and You Can’t Judge A Book by Its Cover.
Better still, Dave Gilmour returned to the fray for a blast on back in the day controversial number LSD and Old Man Going.
A tumultuous encore of fan fave Rosalyn and Roadrunner, featuring both Gilmour and Morrison, brought tonight’s sensational set to a mighty climax.
May and Taylor made a slight return to play out a poignant Loneliest Person and so conclude tonight’s final Pretty Things electric show, maybe…
Words: Paul Davies Photos: Judy Totton
The Pretty Things
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