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Dingwalls, London
Thursday 14 September 2006

Terry 'Superlungs' Reid's reputation continues to precede him. Born in the Fens, the Californian exiled singer song writer is probably rightly regarded as one of the greatest undiscovered white boy soul singers the UK has ever produced. His talent might have never gone beyond being a minor footnote in Rock's great firmament were it not for the fact that Aretha Franklin championed him and then Jimmy Page invited Terry to front the new Yardbirds, who were to become Led Zeppelin.

Micky Most tried to make him a pop star in the late 60's, but it wasn't until Reid belatedly conjured up a brace of excellent mid 70's albums - 'River', and 'Seed of Memory' - that he came to wider attention. And there's more, as Terry remains inextricable hooked up with the Stones at pivotal moments in their career including early ground breaking package tours and the infamous 1969 Altamont tour. Throw in the mix his musical associations with the likes of David Lindley and Graham Nash, and you realise some of the reasons for Reid's cult status.

And yet since 1979's 'Rogue Wave' he has barely been seen over here and it took a good few minutes to overcome the initial shock of seeing this once iconic hippy now transformed into a late middle aged sartorial figure complete with white suit, red tie and boater showing unrestrained joy at bumping into Frankie Miller at his gig.

But first up was former Free and Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke, who now plays acoustic guitar and keyboards in duo format. A loquacious and relaxed performer Simon effortlessly held the audience's attention with a batch of heartfelt self penned songs that covered everything from the politics of Iraq and his own past problems with the bottle - 'Filling the Void' - to the occasional love song such as 'Waiting Game'.

He finished with a surprisingly strong rendition of 'Bad Company', and although the closing 'All Right Now' was perhaps a step to far for his vocal range, both Simon and his accompanist Larry Oaks deserved their enthusiastic reception.

And so it was after the mother of all starts, complete with problems with back drop, failing guitar straps and one of the longest funky intro's of all time ('The Frame') that Terry Reid once again held sway.

When he finally got it together it was readily apparent that this amiable stoner still has a magical voice, best described as a cross between the nuances of Van Morrison and the croak of Leon Russell. He languidly weaved his way in and out of the bars and despite having his voice mixed far to low, Reid quickly showed he hasn't lost any of his ability to elongate a vowel and add real pith to a piece through some wonderful phrasing.

His band offered able support with guitarist Diesel Martin providing some lovely slide runs to supplement Reid's masterful melodies, of which the 1968 penned 'Without Expression' (recorded years later by John Mellencamp) remains a classic.

In between the moments of jocular chaos Terry did suggest a project for the future based on a garage full of taped collaborations from down the years. And on the evidence of another dip into his past with the wonderful 'Too Many People', there are grounds for optimism that another one of rock's wayward talented mavericks might yet make a belated stab at fulfilling his potential.

Review by Pete Feenstra

Simon Kirke interview

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