Wilko Johnson still grooves, glares, chops & strums on...

Wilko Johnson
Wilko Johnson

Wilko Johnson, with special guest Glenn Tilbrook at the De La Warr Pavilion, March 2

Whilst he’s not quite back from the dead (but close enough), the indomitable Wilko still plays an electric guitar like no other .

The former Dr Feelgood guitarist was misdiagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013 but he has battled on and he admits he’s bucked the recent trend of rock star mortality.

The Grim Reaper’s loss is our gain and it was a wonder to see him prowling the DLWP stage, throwing the old stage moves, guitar brandished like a machine gun, and glaring into the Bexhill crowd like they’d just stolen his favourite Chuck Berry record. His familiar black and red Telecaster guitar looks as if it’s integral part of his body, and the equally familiar choppy combination of rhythm and lead guitar sounds as cool and savage as it ever did.

Ex-Blockhead Norman Watt-Roy is one of the best groove merchants around and if anyone deserves a gold bass, it’s Norman.

With another former Blockhead (of a slightly later vintage) Dylan Howe on drums, it was a fearsome three-piece which was as tight and as disciplined as the Pavilion staff’s enforcement of the no-standing up rule - it transpires its not even allowed for R&B/pub-rock royalty!

It was also good to see a set which wasn’t too bogged down with Dr Feelgood tracks. As great as it was to hear Roxette et all, it was even better to see the band hitting their stride with more recent material

As always the evergreen Glenn Tilbrook gave a good account of himself in the opening slot and was everybody’s idea of great start a Saturday night.

The once and forever Squeeze man gave them what they wanted with some solid-gold hits from the halcyon days (Tempted, Up the Junction and Junction) along with an obscure album track or two (Hits of the Year), and an ace, unexpected cover (Always Something There to Remind Me).

The sweet-soul voiced singer-songwriter from South London, the strutting survivor from Canvey Island, and a ruddy good night in Bexhill.

By Steve Holloway