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Live Review:

Mike Sanchez

100 Club, April 19th 2008

Review Darrell Parsons


A good sized crowd gathered in this central London basement, currently celebrating sixty years of existence, for a relatively rare appearance by Mike Sanchez and his top class band, with hardly a seat left by 8 pm. The typical Saturday night crowd provided the usual mix of familiar faces, partygoers and bemused tourists, some of whom probably had no idea what a treat they were in for.

It would be difficult to fail with an established rhythm section, comprising Mark Morgan on drums and Al Gare on double bass, pumping out the beat for a variety of R’n’B, blues, swing and rock’n’roll, with Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Highway 60” setting the pace early doors. Stir in Oliver Darling’s retro guitar tones and backing vocals, as well as a chance to lead the singing during “Have Love Will Travel” and you have a cracking band in itself.

Bring in the added talents of Martin Winning on alto sax and Nick Payn on baritone, the latter temporarily released from Bill Wyman’s popular combo, and you have some serious swing, particularly for “Kiddio” and Little Willie Littlefield’s “Happy Pay Day”, or even some ska tinged backing during “Shirley”.

Mike Sanchez is head honcho and showman however, attacking every song and playing mean keyboards throughout, as well as working the assembled crowd, with “Coalminer” and a storming version of Don Raye’s “Down The Road Apiece” perfect examples. As Mike said, they’ve been playing that song for ever and boy, did they nail it! Some Willie Mabon influenced blues and a frenetic “Sapphire” took us to the break and a much needed breather for the band and the dancers at the back.

The second set incorporated a rocking “Cadillac Baby”, plus and a mix of blues and rock’n’roll classics by the likes of John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Chester Burnett, also featuring some searing harp from Nick during “Shake Your Hips” and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”, with a measure of “Tequila” for added spice. “Blue Boy” brought the pace down slightly, before a rousing finale that included Ike’s “Rocket 88”, the Fat Man’s “Be My Guest” and a feverish “Red Hot Mama”.

Mike was obviously enjoying himself however, as it took little persuasion to bring him back for an encore of “Say Mama”, some “Mellow Saxophone”, highlighting the brass section’s abilities again and closing with a wild version of “Tallahassee Lassie” to finish us all off.

Mike Sanchez has a big talent, a larger personality and a fantastic ability to put on a show. Catch up with him and the band at several venues and festivals over the summer.