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Copyright Nick Morgan and crew

Concert Review by Nick Morgan
The Eel Pie Club, Twickenham, London, March 5th 2008
The Barcodes
The Barcodes
It’s been a little while since we’ve been to see the Barcodes, Whiskyfun’s favourite London based blues band, and purveyors of their own fine brand of “jazz and blues with soul”, as they like to describe it. That’s why we’re here at Richmond’s famous Eel Pie Club, a celebration of famous 1960’s rhythm and blues venues in the vicinity of Eel Pie Island (now home, you may recall, to the Mystery Jets) such as the Crawdaddy Club, the Station Hotel, the Imperial, and L’Auberge. It was here that bands like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds started, and artistes such as Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck launched their careers. There was, and is, a west London music mafia (most of the major labels have their offices over here, convenient for the large riverside homes of many of their senior executives) and it started here. Actually it feels like a lot of the old blues foot soldiers are in the audience. In fact, to be honest it’s a bit like waking up in an R&B rest home (Dungroovin’ perhaps?), which is something like my idea of heaven, and it’s no surprise that by the end of the evening there seem to be more people on stage than there are in the audience.
It’s a launch party for the Barcodes new CD, Live! In Session for the BBC, and very nice it is too, even if the title is a bit of a cheat, as the album is a recording of a live session in Ipswich for BBC Radio Suffolk. Cheeky boys. The Barcodes, if you don’t remember, are keyboard player Bob Haddrell, with a smooth soulful voice who’s always at his best singing the works of Mose Allison (like ‘Parchman Farm’, on the CD but not performed tonight) or Willie Dixon (7th Son, ‘which is’). Haddrell’s a big man, but he removes his shoes to play the bass pedals with wonderfully delicate stockinged feet.
Alan Glen
Alan Glen (The Barcodes)
Equally delicate, subtle and deftly laid-back is drummer Dino Coccia – as the evening wears on he’s almost impossible to see, but you sure know he’s there. And fronting the band on harmonica, and with some very tasteful blues licks on his Gibson guitar (note to artist – please clean guitar), is Alan Glen. Tonight they also have world-famous conga player Robin Jones, and on saxophone Nick Newall, who’s worked with the likes of the Kinks, Zoot Money, Gary Brooker and Andy Summers. Later they’re enhanced by “the saxophone-playing orthopaedic surgeon” Art Themen, veteran of Stan Tracey’s bands, and more importantly a stalwart of the early London blues scene. Later still, the Barcodes are joined by Dr Feelgood and Yardbirds guitarist and Hammersmith native Gypie Mayo and for their final song, ‘Everything or nothing’ by vocalist Paul Cox.
Art Themen, Nick Newall, Gypie Mayo and Alan Glen
The Incredible Blues Puppies
The Incredible Blues Puppies

I suppose that could have been it, but it’s not, because the second half of the evening features special guests The Incredible Blues Puppies, a spin-off from the Barcodes with Haddrell (only an occasional member), Coccia and Glenn being joined by Costa Tancredi on bass and John O’Reilly on guitar. They work through a gutsy and energised set as befits “some of the best blues hounds around”, being joined on and off by Cox, Mayo, harmonica stalwart Shakey Vick, Jim Mercer on bass and slide guitarist Tim Nolan (the inspiration behind the Eel Pie Club). I’m sure that there were even more people on stage as I was almost left standing on my own by the end, and I quite fancied the thought of having a go myself, but that no doubt was pure bravado brought on by the generous helpings of red wine that my companions were serving me. Anyway it was great fun. If you ever get the chance you should see the Barcodes, and for that matter the Incredible Blues Puppies. And if you don’t, well go and buy Live! It’s as good as the Barcodes get – and highly recommended. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)

Kate's Barcodes photo album Kate's photographs

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