Send for the doctor

Dr Feelgood will be on the patch soon. Martin Longley caught them last year and they were on top form. 

Dr Feelgood, Fibbers, York. 24th October, 2013 .


There are no original members in the current Dr. Feelgood line-up, but the grimy rhythm’n’booze combo still fills the old repertoire with fresh and decidedly rockin’ new blood. Next Wednesday night they leap into Leamington Spa, and in May they’re set to blast through Bilston. Lst October I saw them at Fibbers and they were on fire.

An eager crowd established their personal vibe straight away, with a strong dancing element down the front. Yes, this band have always specialised in a twitchy, nervy, high-strung variant on blues-rock, rhythmically wired in a post-Bo Diddley manner. Their bluesy rock’n’roll has always smelt of garage-ey grime.

The news had recently arrived of guitarist John ‘Gypie’ Mayo’s demise, and when singer Robert Kane was dedicating the set to his memory, we were almost expecting him to reveal that the cancer-stricken Wilko Johnson had departed. Mayo took Johnson’s place in the band back in 1977. Feelgood’s current line-up is made up by the players who surrounded the also-departed founder-singer Lee Brilleaux during the 1980s and beyond.

There was the feeling that the sudden news of Mayo’s death added to the desperate vigour of Feelgood’s performance. The historic repertoire was continuing, relentlessly, sounding as vital as ever. The set shot past in a condensed spurt of manic rockin’, dominated by the chopping, strafing, scratching guitar work of Steve Walwyn, who had his own personal fan club crowding around his side of the stage. There were tensely-coiled readings of  Back In The Night, She’s A Wind-Up, Milk & Alcohol, All Through The City, and a blues feature for Walwyn with Rollin’ And Tumblin’.

The 70 minute set continued with a 20 minute encore, taking in Riot In Cell Block Number 9 and a medley of Bonie Maroni/Tequila, from the live set right back at the beginning of the combo’s career. This was a rollin’ extension, but failed to match the energy of their actual core set. It would have been virtually impossible to maintain that same pitch for a full 90 minutes.