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Ben Poole / Wilson http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/25/7a/e8/ben-poole-live-thumb-97-1545927958.jpg Hot

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Ben Poole / Wilson - Old School House Venue, Barnsley (UK) - 23 November 2018

For the fifth time this year, two gigs I wanted to attend were scheduled for the same evening. This time they were even in the same town, Barnsley. I had already committed to go to see Ben Poole when it was announced that Terry Brock and Blood Red Saints would be playing a few miles away at the Birdwell Venue. It's probably my own fault for having such an eclectic taste in Rock music. However, if that's the only problem I have, then as ELP sang, "I'm a 'Lucky Man'".

Support this evening came from local (Leeds) solo artist Wilson, who took to the stage in a heavy leather jacket and knotted scarf, such was the chilly temperature in the venue early doors. 'Break The Chains' opened proceedings, followed by the percussive guitar of 'Rattling Bones'. Wilson, as in Tom Hank's companion in 'Cast Away', having warmed up, removed his scarf for the slow Blues of 'Devil On My Shoulder'. The pleasant, laid-back Blues of 'Coming Home' and 'Demons' preceded the heavier 'Caught In The Rain', the highlight for me. Wilsons' thirty-minute set was brought to a conclusion with 'A Promise I Can't Keep', which immediately brought to mind the Tom Jones classic 'Delilah'.


Ben Poole Wilson Live Review 1

We only had to wait ten minutes for the main event. This was my third time seeing Ben Poole, having previously seen him support Stevie Nimmo a couple of years ago, and then earlier this year at HRH-Blues. Tonight proved that Poole was equally at home on a small stage in an intimate venue, as opposed to a large one, such as the aforementioned HRH-Blues.


Ben Poole Wilson Live Review 2

Poole interacted with the audience from the get-go, telling them that this was the beginning of the UK leg of his tour, having opened in his hometown of Brighton and then playing Milton Keynes, where he'd spent most of his life. Although it was my first time at The Old Schoohouse, it was not Poole's, and he endeared himself to the already partisan crowd by saying it also felt like a hometown gig. The audience for the most part paid great respect to the band; however, Uncle Knobhead (copyright Peter Kay) was in attendance. Of course, we had all come out to listen to that drunken idiot, rather than the talented musicians on stage... not!

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Following the set opener 'Take It No More', Poole introduced his talented band: Joe Mac on keyboards and backing vocals, Beau Barnard on bass and backing vocals, and King King drummer Wayne Proctor. They continued with 'Win You Over', which even included a snippet of Michael Jackson's 'The Way You Make Me Feel'. Poole then took a glass of red wine and proceeded to have a long chat with the (approximate one hundred and twenty) fans in attendance. He explained why he was on tour and the story behind the recording of the excellent new album 'Anytime You Need Me' (see my review in Fireworks #84). The brilliant cover of the Jude Cole classic 'Start My Car' (I'm sure only a few of us there had heard the original) was just as good live as the recorded version.


Ben Poole Wilson Live Review 3

At the start of the Freddie King cover of 'Have You Ever Loved A Woman', one of the punters cheekily shouted, "Rubbish". The solo intensified and Poole amusingly retorted, "I must try harder." You are not going to see a much better guitarist on your travels; he even sang this song stood away from the microphone.

At the start of the tour they had stuck to a rigid set list, but soon ditched that idea and started to include a jam session mid-set for the sake of their own sanity. This evening they played Canned Heat's 'Goin' Up Country', and an awe-inspiring rendition of Bill Wither's 'Better Off Dead'; the quiet passages, where Poole played his electric guitar unplugged, were sublime, and only momentarily disturbed by the aforementioned Uncle Knobhead. One fan shouted out "Rory Gallagher!" - High praise indeed.

An extended version (aren't they all with live Blues?) of the title-track of the new album closed the set. It was dedicated to everyone that had ever helped you out during difficult times; wives, husbands, family, band members, friends, etc. One fan did hilariously shout out, "Does that include ex-wives?" An amusing conversation then ensued, until Poole asked the fan to be quiet, which he duly respected (unlike Uncle Knobhead).

The band left the stage, then returned for a one-song, ten-minute encore 'Stay At Mine' that saw Poole and Mac trading solos, including the immortal riff to 'Smoke On The Water'.


Ben Poole Wilson Live Review 4

Only eleven songs; however, the band had been on stage for an hour and forty-minutes. My only disappointment was that there was no time for the transcendent 'Time Might Never Come'. But that was only a very minor gripe. My advice, catch Ben Poole soon at a small venue, as he easily has enough talent to be playing much larger stages. I can highly recommend both Ben Poole and the Old School House Venue. Just keep your fingers-crossed that Uncle Knobhead has taken a night off when you go!

Mark Donnelly

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