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JOHN OTWAY & WILD WILLY BARRETT
The Assembly, Leamington 29 May 2011
is a real one off character and a true entertainer in every meaning of
the word, he has at times a manic approach to his performance but is
such a good natured explosion of contagious fun it is impossible not to
get completely engrossed in the show.
tour is titled 40 Odd Years of Otway and Barrett and as the title
suggests John is accompanied by the mulit instrumentalist, folk artist
Wild Willy Barrett who was of course Johns partner in crime in the early
years, the 40 odd years Mr Otway told the audience related to the first
Otway and Barrett gig back in 1971.
This was the
first time I had seen The Assembly set up Cabaret style with sets of
small groups of chairs placed around a table at various spots on the
venue floor, really quite cosy and perfectly suited the evenings
catching the eye before the start of the gig was the collection of weird
and wonderful instruments and objects set up on the stage including a
set of bag pipes and mysteriously a full sized wheelie bin!
themselves casually walked from the back of the hall onto the stage for
the proceedings to begin, first up with excellent fiddle work by Willy
the fast paced folk rock of 'Louisa on a Horse' taken from their self
titled debut album released in 1977.
From the off
you could see what a perfect double act John and Willy make, John's
manic enthusiasm playing so well against Willy's dry humour, the breaks
between numbers often becoming comic sketches in their own right.
and great fun Hit Single 'Really Free' was introduced nice and early in
the proceedings, humorously as the high point of the evening and this
was also when the wheelie bin mystery was solved as it proved to be part
of Willy's electric guitar set up and whenever the lid was lifted the
guitar volume was turned up to 11 along with added effects, of course
the audience were in absolute pieces the first time it was used.
from the evening included a new song put together for this tour,
introduced as their take on Elton John's Nikita, titled 'Natasha You're
a Smasher (but you're working for Russia)' and it is a gem of a tune,
lyrically very clever with a fun chorus, and the hilarious 'Body Talk' a
number that is always a standout when performed live and where showman
John pulls out all the stops with the aid of a Theremin and a set of
body drum pad things (sorry about the vague description) on various
parts of the body which made different style drum sounds through touch
and body movement.
Of the other
numbers performed I particularly enjoyed their folk style version of
'Two Little Boys' with Willy on the banjo which began with a few bars of
'Duelling Banjos', a spirited and punky 'Beware of the Flowers' which
according to John was once voted the song with the 7th best ever lyrics,
just one place behind 'Yesterday', and I loved John going all Elvis
during the rock and roll blues of '21 Days'.
is a really accomplished guitarist playing many different styles, folk,
blues, rock even a little bit of Spanish and also performed on a variety
of instruments as of course did Mr Otway and as previously mentioned the
partnership works extremely well and great to see that John still has
that mischievous twinkle in his eye, a really fun evening which brought
a smile to the whole audience, myself included.
photos by Andrew Lock
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