Live Review: The Move featuring Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan
Boom Boom Club, Sutton, Friday 30th May, 2014
My expectations for the evening were mixed. I’ve been a fan of The Move since I was a teenager, in fact one of my prized possessions at the time was a lengthy compilation cassette made by Castle Communications of The Move’s greatest hits that I picked up from the Woolworths bargain bin for less than two quid. It wasn’t just your run of the mill compilation, either, it had quite a few album tracks and excellent live performances which could only be described as deep cuts. Either the person who compiled that tape was a genius or they simply shoved everything they had the rights for onto one album. Either way, it was a big part of my life when I was about fifteen and the thought of seeing two of the original group, including guitarist/bassist Trevor Burton and the absolute legend that is Bev Bevan was quite an exciting prospect. However, without Roy Wood, the songwriter and major creative force, Ace Kefford and, of course, the late, great Carl Wayne, it would be very easy for anybody sniffily to say, “Yeah, but you’re not actually seeing The Move, are you?”. Before last night, I’d have said they had a point. After seeing the latest (and final, if what the band say is true) incarnation of the group, I can honestly say that I have seen The Move, because the spirit and music of the band I have loved all my adult life was present, correct and so very much alive in the hands of these fantastic musicians. You listen to live recordings from The Marquee and The Fillmore from the late sixties and the musicians I saw yesterday evening take you right back, with authenticity and style.
The chatty, very funny, larger-than-life Trevor Burton (sharing lead and rhythm guitar duties with Tony Kelsey) reminisced throughout the gig, his eyes almost misting over when he told of the formation of the band in 1966, “Just before England won the World Cup”, although, it has to be said, he doesn’t look old enough to have been in a band in the mid-sixties (I suppose the fact he was seventeen at the time explains that, just about), cracking jokes about Jimmy Savile (“And there he was… ‘now then, now then’… ah, gerroudovit, fuck off!”), Tony Blackburn, his dog “Arthur” and how he struggled to tell the difference between the two (yes, it was Arnold, not Arthur, but Trevor was taking the piss) to roars of laughter from the audience. It was part rock concert, part stand-up comedy show and all of the band seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the laughs. He reminisced about the plummy-voiced BBC suits seeing rock ‘n’ roll as a fad, called Harold Wilson some choice words over him suing the band and told of the time Jim Morrison came to see them at The Fillmore in San Francisco, only to be carried out unconscious half an hour later. The stories were almost as entertaining as the music. Almost. The five-piece Move are a frighteningly powerful outfit. Loud, energetic and playing with more balls than bands half their age can usually muster.
The band kicked off with an powerful, intensive “I Can Hear The Grass Grow”, making the song sound a little heavier than the psychedelic-leaning single, followed by hit sing-along single “Fire Brigade” and a cracking rendition of Eddie Cochran’s “Something Else”, which itself was from a live EP recorded in 1968. A spirited version of “Flowers In The Rain” followed afterwards, preceded by a discussion about the formation of Radio One and their love of pirate radio stations and Radio Luxembourg, radio interference and all. Début single from December 1966, “Night Of Fear” sounded magnificent nearly fifty years later and, to follow that, a cover The Move often did live back in their heyday, Erma Franklin’s “Piece Of My Heart”, was sung capably by “Movette” keyboard player Abby Brant. One of The Move’s finest albums was their second, “Shazam” and opening track “Hello Suzie” received a gutsy performance, followed by a sublime cover of beautiful Goffin/King standard “Goin’ Back” which showcased the wonderful harmonies of the band (reminding my of their incredible cover of Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing On My Mind”).
Burton then introduced the next song, “Wild Tiger Woman”, as the only Roy Wood single not to chart (“It got to something like number five-hundred-and-two”, he quipped, “and I sang it!”) which is difficult to fathom, given its raunchiness and catchy chorus. They then pulled an ace out of their sleeves with a superb version of “Brontosaurus”, making the song sound so much better than it ever did on record and some very tasty guitar work from Trevor during the double-time breakdown. The next track they did was something I was unfamiliar with, “Mercury Blues”, but was a very enjoyable blues composition, performed in tribute to the time the band drove across America in 1969 in a Mercury car (meeting some ‘cowboys’ in Alberqueque who had obviously never seen someone like Roy before and led to a fight in which the band fled with the rednecks shooting guns off into the air), the length of Route 66. The only Jeff Lynne-penned Move song of the evening, “Do Ya” was performed afterwards and the band remained faithful to the original rather than the 1976 ELO re-recorded version. Trevor then did a spot of self-indulgence with a song he usually performs with The Trevor Burton Band, “Wild Young Thing”, but it was an enjoyable up-tempo, high energy piece with an instant sing-along chorus, so a diversion away from The Move’s catalogue was forgiveable.
The band, especially Trevor, were huge mates with Jimi Hendrix when he came to England in the late sixties, with Burton sharing a flat with Noel Redding of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. With a visible twinkle in his eye, he briefly touched on the kind of behaviour they indulged in. “Queueing out of the door, they were…” he said, wistfully. With that, the band burst into a blistering version of “Hey Joe” which resulted in some more superb guitar soloing by Burton, who is quite clearly the underrated talent of the band but the undoubted star of this incarnation, despite the presence of the legendary Bevan. The Move then finished with their number one hit, the incomparable “Blackberry Way” (still one of my favourite songs of all time) which was really quite special, including an audience-sung chorus, which was a lovely moment. Despite it being dangerously close to curfew, they came back on stage for an encore, which was The Spencer Davis Group’s timeless “Gimmie Some Lovin’”, which they performed with aplomb. It was a terrific end to a superb set, which was over all too soon.
It was a very memorable evening and, straight afterwards, my friend remarked that it was one of the best gigs he had ever been to. I had to agree wholeheartedly, they were absolutely sensational and exceeded any expectations I had fiftyfold. To see them at a small venue like Sutton’s (newly air-conditioned) Boom Boom Club added to the magic of the evening. All of the band are brilliantly accomplished musicians and engaging, genial performers. Bassist and vocalist Phil Tree (Mike Sheridan Band, Roy Wood, Belch) and guitarist Tony Kelsey (Mike Sheridan’s Nightriders, Steve Winwood, Trevor Burton Band) were assured, radiated enthusiasm for the material and were an integral part of the “magnetic wave of sound” that blew the audience away. Bev Bevan’s performance was excellent, giving flashes of those incredible drum fills and demonstrating that his ability to read and interpret songs perfectly hasn’t diminished at all over the years. I have to admit, just to be in the presence of Bev, being the huge Move and ELO fan I am, it was something I thought would probably never happen in my lifetime, so catching him live was something very meaningful to me. Abby was a an excellent musician as well, her keyboard skills were impressive during the few solos she had, but she quietly bolstered the group’s very full sound with her backing vocals and finger-work. They all made a glorious noise.
Sadly, there are only a handful of dates left for this (possibly final) incarnation of The Move, so the time to see them is running out. They will, however, be performing on the Main Stage at The Isle Of Wight Festival on the afternoon of Sunday 15th June, 2014, which is rather a big final hurrah for the band. Thankfully, I will be there and look forward to watching the festival crowd being blown away by a band who rock heavier and harder than anyone could possibly expect. I understand that there are many people who think that Roy Wood is The Move. I don’t believe that anyone who sees Trevor, Bev and the band would think that afterwards. “Roy is always welcome to join us” smiled Trevor, during last night’s performance. Thing is, Trevor, as great as Woody’s talent is, I don’t think you need him. It’s like The Kast Off Kinks, who perform without the Davies brothers, they give a much greater account of the band than the songwriters do these days themselves. If anyone has any reservations about seeing The Move featuring Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan because they are only two-fifths of the original line-up, put them aside, because it’s the closest you will ever get to watching the real thing.
The Move featuring Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan have a handful of dates left on their UK tour, including Wolverhampton, Bolton, Wakefield, Runcorn, Sutton Coldfield and a Sunday afternoon slot on the Main Stage at The 2014 Isle Of Wight Festival. Check www.ents24.com for ticket availability and dates.
Andy Sweeney, 31st May, 2014.