Last night Wilko Johnson was due to play Belfast as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. For those who are not music literate, particularly when it comes to one of the most seminal periods of British rock, he’s best known for his role as Ilyn Payn in Game of Thrones. Due to recent major surgery to remove his tumour understandably he had to cancel his appearance. What replaced his act was The Blockheads which Wilko was a part of from 1980 for a period.
The Blockheads setlist consisted of a balanced mix of the classics (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, What a Waste, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick) and newer material such as ode to CCTV and surveillance in general Undercover and Boys Will Be Boys (a bright bluesy number guaranteed to get one moving). A dedication to Wilko with Sweet Gene Vincent brought a supportive cheer from the crowd. The night ended in traditional form with Blockheads – a raucous number ending the evening on a high note.
The Blockheads themselves were on fine form keeping the crowd moving with Derek Hussey able to provide his own vocal stamp to the Blockheads sound underpinned by Norman Watt-Roy’s bass and Chaz Jankel’s guitar. Whilst the event wasn’t packed out this 5 foot nothing writer was very glad of it because it meant space to dance AND I was able to see the band without having to dodge about avoiding 6 footers standing in front of me! Safe to say the crowd who were in attendance were enthusiastic and it was one of the most enjoyable gigs I have been to in some time.
I have to also give the support act, Billy Boy Miskimmin’s Mercy Lounge (Miskimmin’s previous bands included The Yardbirds, Nine Below Zero, etc) for a great warm up and getting the crowd grooving along before The Blockheads.
I hope the Blockheads will return to Belfast and those who missed them last night will have a chance to experience them live.
In the meantime, we at Nerdgeist wish Wilko Johnson all the best for his recovery after surgery and we hope to see him in Belfast soon after his recovery as well. The Blockheads have a new album out, Same Horse Different Jockey and can be bought online through Amazon or iTunes.
1st – 11th May 2014 – Cathedral Quarter, Belfast