Review: Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton at the Lichfield Guildhall

The popular boogie woogie and blues pianist Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton bought his talented quartet to play at Lichfield Guildhall.

Steve 'Big Man' Clayton

Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton

With a songbook that took from the classics of the genre and some surprises, the ensemble of Steve on piano and vocal, guitarist and violin player Howard Gregory, double bassist Bob Boucher and drummer Howard Smith produced an evening of musical invention, audience participation and foot-tapping tunes.

Although the musicians were all very good players, they played together as a unit, with no grandstanding and no songs outstaying their welcome.

A sense of fun always occurs at a Steve Clayton gig, so although they are serious musicians, the band are entertainers first and foremost, with the piano being played by Clayton’s feet during some of the songs, train noises from the audience during others, and widespread participation throughout the show.

The songs included many from the early rock ‘n’ roll era, such as Shake, Rattle and Roll, Blueberry Hill and Whole Lot of Shaking Going On, although there were older oddities as well, such as Honky Tonk Train Blues, which started off quickly and got faster, or Twilight Time by The Platters, which showed off the group’s talent as harmony singers.

Songs from the rock genre also featured, including an inventive version of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, while drummer Howard Smith led the ensemble through Little Walter’s My Babe and Sea Cruise by Frankie Vaughan.

The show was closed – and stolen – by the band’s roof raising version of What I Say by Ray Charles, which featured everything from playing piano with the feet, contrapuntal piano and energetic performing from the band.

If you want a fun night out, with some seriously good musicians, Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton and the 44s always deliver.

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