The Oval, Croydon, November 15thh, 2019
‘It’s Friday night, the bar is still open and we’re still playing, which is good!’ Steve Eggs acknowledged the cheers of a crowd packing one of Croydon’s finest bastions of ‘live’ rock music with a cheery smile and a wave at the bar girls pulling those foaming pints.
The Steve Eggs Band had spent the evening playing a succession of original songs to an army of fans that showed its appreciation by singing along to the lyrics, whistling and clapping to barnstorming numbers like It’s Alright from their critically acclaimed 2019 album We Humans.
One contingent had even hired a bus to transport them from distant Banstead to the Oval and occupied nearly all the available seating to ensure they had a good view of the Eggmen in action. They were rewarded with one of the most explosive performances known to rock science.
You could imagine the heated discussion at the Royal Institute of Rhythmic Studies later that night. “By thunder Perkins, we must recalibrate our instruments. Tonight’s demonstration was either off the scale or there is something seriously wrong with the electronic pulse detector!’
Glad to say I still have a pulse and so its rate increased dramatically when the band launched into the first set with the psychedelic Hello, lively Good Intentions and Falling Into You hotly pursued by Paradise, with grinding guitars, ear bending riffs and passionate vocal delivery by Mr. Eggs.
Steve emphasised the band’s commitment to climate change awareness when he announced Here Comes The Rain, a deluge of cool chords unleashed by composer Peter Wass, the band’s bass player and deputy banjo-ist. It was during this performance that Oval Warming became a reality. Drummer Mark Taylor shook the floor with a seismic back beat. Lead guitarist ‘Jonny The K’ Kershaw’s Fender Strat produced an electrifying tingling effect, inducing an outbreak of Spasmodic Torticollis of the neck muscles, aka ‘head banging’.
Between singing and playing acoustic guitar, Steve added bursts of harmonica to S.S.California. A dramatic tale of the tragic fate of an Atlantic Ocean liner, its country rock mood was enhanced by Jon’s bottle neck effects.
Slipstream, another song from their latest album, has a great arrangement comparable to one of The Who’s more strident anthems. This was matched with a slow and moody Running Through My Veins, one of three new compositions unveiled by the band’s most prolific composer.
As an all singing group, it was good to hear Jon and Steve harmonising on the refrain of the catchy, atmospheric Ghost Train. One of their few ‘covers’ is an uplifting version of Tom Petty’s American Girl complete with rousing Kershawian guitar solo. A Johnny Cash medley also provides a fun interlude during any Eggs Band show.
After a pause for lager and jokes, the band re-assembled on stage for the final set commencing with tunes guaranteed to please the coach party including The Road To California and Love And Grace , the latter graced by an abrupt stop time coda. Upbeat rocker Crash Landing was driven by Mark’s powerful drumming and Jon and Pete’s fingers flying on the frets.
Thence came the amazing The Ballad Of Wah Wah Banjo. A spine tingling guitar motif set the scene for Steve’s moving tale of lost love, resolving into a poignant cry of ‘Nobody makes it on their own!’ Jon’s wah wah solo matched the underlying anger of the lyrics with an explosive display of sheer guitar power.
Blimey, there was more to come. Just when you thought it safe to order another pint of Kronenberg, Steve announced the premiere of One Horse Town boldly described as: ‘Our three minute rock opera. It’s all about not leading a life of crime. Just don’t do it kids – just say no!’
The subtly conceived We Humans, a rolling Roll Over and furiously fast It’s Alright complete with pounding tom toms was enough to bring the audience to its feet – literally. By now I’d jettisoned my trusty reviewer’s note book to gaze in wonderment at the fans dancing in front of the amplifiers and whooping with delight. This hasn’t happened since the Bay City Rollers were last in Croydon, not to mention Eddie Van Halen. Am I getting confused? Well all that Spasmodic Torticollis has taken its toll.