ECHOES OF OUR TIME TOUR
Alban Arena 15TH May 2017
Bedford singer-songwriter Danni Nicholls was a solid choice as a support act, given Shakey's move towards a more Americana feel. Vocally she has an absorbing melodic tone and her country inspired music is reminiscent of early Shania Twain. Tracks such as Beautifully Broken and Hey There Sunshine are well worth a visit if you want to check out this rising star of the British country scene.
Shakin' Stevens, one of the biggest acts of the 80s is no longer the leather jacket wearing, 50s rock and roll reviver you may remember. Armed with one of the best and most versatile live bands you will hear, Shakey presents a collection of songs from his back catalogue, many in a re-imagined way, alongside songs from his acclaimed new album Echoes of Our Time – his highest charting album since 1983. Tinged with country, rock and Americana this new music stands shoulders apart from the fan favourites. Down In The Hole and Echoes Our Time are the tributes to his uncles - a miner and soldier in WW1. Subtitled 'an album of life and times' this personal album also has tributes to the place of religion in his family and to his Grandmother's tenacity in Fire In Her Blood.
How Could It Be Like That, from 2006, is the first older song in the set carries with it the heavy influence of the original guitarist Tony Joe White (who wrote Steamy Windows for Tina Turner), it is a prime example of the blues-tinged music that Shakey has moved towards. A cover of the Corky Jones track Hot Dog and Turning Away are old school rock n roll that are given an edgier makeover, but the fans appear to take delight in hearing the newer material as much as the old. Another superb cover of a lesser known Chuck Berry track It's My Own Business, which wouldn't be out of place on Jools Holland's Hootenanny – especially with a R & B band this good!
The second half sees more of the classic Shakey songs, The Old House and Green Door are given a moody revival with the help of a country blues feel, whilst Lipstick, Power Paint and Marie, have fans dancing in the aisles at the rock n roll they remember. Still, it's the newer material that has the edge here, distancing himself as much as possible from the songs that made his name, Shakin' Stevens gains more kudos as a writer and performer from his ability to comment on injustice in Suffer Little Children and Last Man Alive.
Dressed all in black and with limited performance of the songs, he's more reminiscent of Johnny Cash than Elvis, and that's probably a good thing. Even without the crowd pleasers, the set could have easily flourished with the impressive songwriting and musicianship alone.