Feeling good, feeling better

Dave Woodhall watches a night of label-defying music. 

Dr Feelgood/Eddie & the Hot Rods, Robin 2. 

“I fakkin lahv this place” says Barrie Masters, and he should know because he’s played a few. There was a time when Eddie & the Hot Rods were seen as the future of British rock’n’roll. That was a long while ago and circumstances dictated that the early potential was never fulfilled but Masters is still leading the latest line-up of the band around the world, delivering 100 mph sets to audiences who care more about enjoyment than trends. Are they r&b, pub rock, punk? Who knows. Just enjoy.

There was the usual Rods mixture of their own classics, newer material which sounded a good as anything they’ve ever done plus a few well-chosen and usually obscure covers. The one you’ve heard of was, as ever, throw in mid-way through without fanfare while a blistering version of Gloria ended the hour-long set with the audience singing along merrily.

And the night was still young…

The crowd seemed to have thinned out a bit after the interval but headliners Dr Feelgood still came on to a good reception.

The Feelgoods have never reached particularly far into the back catalogue of blues masters for their influences – standards from Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley helped kick their set off and a lengthy Rollin’ and Tumblin’ saw guitarist Steve Walwyn take over the singing duties as well as showing his dexterity on slide, a feat repeated on a couple more occasions during the evening.

Even though they’ve enjoyed an unchanged line-up for fifteen years there are still fans who believe that with no original members they shouldn’t exist, or at least not under that name. Whether or not you think they should carry on, they can’t get round the fact that however good the music might be, (and these boys can play – maybe they aren’t such good individual musicians as some of their predecessors but they’re certainly a tight unit) it isn’t Lee Brilleaux up there and singer Robert Kane doesn’t sound like him. In fact, Kane always comes across to me as though he’s trying a bit too hard.

But whatever shortcomings may or may not exist, the band went down the home straight with some of their own vintage songs done spellblindingly and by the time for the encores any remaining doubters in the room had been won over. Some more vintage rock, roll and blues ended the night and no matter what the purists may think, Dr Feelgood provided another night for anyone who was at the Robin simply for a good time.