Blockheads teach pretenders a lesson in rock rebellion

The Blockheads
The Blockheads

The Blockheads, Balcombe Club, Saturday, April 26

In the same week troubled rock band the Libertines announced another reunion, some of the grand daddies of British rock rebellion were proving their longevity with a gig at Balcombe Club.

The Blockheads have formed and reformed over nearly four decades with their own fair share of disagreements and departures.

Yet the line-up for Saturday’s gig in Balcombe was classic vintage that knocked the spots off young pretenders.

Original members Chaz Jankel (guitar and keys) and Norman Watt-Roy (bass) soared beside the trademark understated vocals of Derek ‘The Draw’ Hussey, former friend and minder of the late Ian Dury whose name is forever associated with the original Blockheads.

Johnny Turnbull (guitar) and Mickey Gallagher (organ) also stem from the earliest incarnation of the group. They were joined by the hugely talented and long-standing Gilad Atzmon on sax (two at the same time on one occasion).

The line-up was completed by the youthful John Roberts whose tempered drums allowed for the virtuosity and contrast that delivered a depth of colour and tone that is absent in less seasoned bands.

Numbers from the 2013 album ‘Same Horse Different Jockey’ proved there was still abundant talent in these great British rockers, with the album’s indiscreet cover designed to raise eyebrows.

But it was the old hits that brought the biggest cheers: Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3, Sweet Jean Vincent, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick having lost none of their appeal and popularity.

To hear hits that are some of the anthems of British rock history, played live by the original artists at this accessible venue was a rare treat.

Long may Balcombe Club continue to attract the grand daddies of rock ‘n roll, as well as young pretenders – on this occasion support act, Crawley-based Danny Dangerously & the Avengers who enthusiastically fulfilled their task of paving the way for some legendary rock heroes.

Look out for Dr Feelgood making a return visit to Balcombe Club in December, another wealth of vintage talent to show how it should be done.

By Carolyn Robertson