Tony McPhee’s Groundhogs at The Palladium Club, Bideford, Friday 8 April
By Meady01 | Thursday, April 14, 2011, 19:52
By the time The Groundhogs
finished their set at The Palladium Club, a few people had already left – not
their cup of tea maybe. But a lot more stayed on way after the encore,
reluctant to leave and instead savouring the afterglow of having witnessed a
The Groundhogs have a mighty
history. Having started as a blues band and becoming John Lee Hooker’s regular
backing band in the 60’s, in the early 70’s they graduated to heavy, prog rock
and their landmark album, ‘Split’. The autobiographical title track actually
featured as 4 separate tracks on the album and back in the day, just those 4
tracks could last the length of a gig as McPhee furiously careered up and down
his guitar’s fret board, led by his muse, mood and what ever other stimulus
might have been to hand.
That same vibe dominated the
Palladium gig, which was part of the band’s tour to celebrate their classic
years from ’69 – ’72. A rock solid rhythm section allowed McPhee to just fill
his boots and if he did wander off from time to time with his solos, the band
were ready and waiting when he came back.
Split 1, 2 and 4 all featured on
the night, whilst Eccentric Man perfectly captured the essence of what has
driven The Groundhogs for many years. They finished with another Groundhogs
classic, Cherry Red before going back to their blues roots with Howlin’ Wolf’s
classic Down In The Bottom for the encore.
Remarkably, McPhee suffered a
stroke just two years ago which severely affected his speech and limited his
singing to just three tracks on the night as Joanna Deacon managed the bulk of
the vocals but hats off to McPhee – 67 and still playing like a man possessed.
A legend indeed.