Live Rock Lives
The road to Croydon is a mighty fine road, especially when the Steve Eggs Band are leading the way with the kind of exciting ‘live’ sets they performed at The Oval Tavern on a sunny afternoon (September 20, 2020).
It was only the second ‘live’ show they could present since Lock Down began, the previous one being a gig on Hastings Pier in the summer. There were many jokes on the stage, set up at the rear of the pub’s garden, as the gathering musicians mused about their lack of rehearsal time.
Actually it didn’t show at all when the SEB stormed into old favourites ‘Road To California’ and ‘Good Intentions’ and band leader Steve Eggs commented: “Well that’s two we remembered.” Retorted bassist Peter Wass: “Yes. Who are you?”
If there were any worries about how the four piece might sound ‘out doors’ we were soon lulled, assuaged and disburdened. Vocal harmonies rang out clearly, the guitars, bass and drums were finely balanced and even Steve’s harmonica rent the air, untrammelled by feedback or overly loud speakers.
They played two sets with many songs from their albums We Humans and Hometown Skyline. These drew the first bursts of applause from the audience seated at tables and waited on by The Oval’s attentive staff with a steady flow of Lager Shandy and plates of sausage’n’mash. Food, beer and fine music. What better accompaniment to a Sunday afternoon social?
The good vibes certainly encouraged the band and lead guitarist Jon Kershaw in particular. He was soon in Fender action with solos that drew cheers and whistles after Steve shouted: “Take it away Jonny the K” most notably on ‘The Road To California’ and rockin’ ‘Good Intentions.’
Drummer Mark Taylor set up a snare drum shuffle rhythm, that underpinned Steve’s vocals on ‘Falling Into You’ and the whole ensemble tackled a tricky slowed down coda with great aplomb. Next came one of the band’s most creative arrangements ‘The S.S. California’ the tragic tale of a sunken ocean liner. Jon played bottle neck slide guitar as Steve wailed an urgent S.O.S on harmonica and it was full steam ahead from Peter’s Hofner violin bass.
“They warned us every silver lining has a cloud,” said Steve dolefully. “So hey, ‘Here Comes The Rain.’ His weather report for South London was a little premature but ushered in a fluviatile performance of the song composed by Mr. Wass. There was a cloud burst from the lead guitarist, on which Jon played a long sustained lightning note before weaving a complex shower of riffs and hooks leading to a thunderous finale.
The rhythm soaked audience applauded but a puzzled Steve looked up and said: “What was that song about?”
Pete: “About three and a half minutes.”
‘The Heartbreaker’ followed with a boogie guitar backing providing a muttering undercurrent of emotive disapproval of whoever was breaking those hearts. The first set raced to a climax with the jet powered ‘Slipstream’ and ‘Crash Landing’ steered down to earth by Mark’s rock’n’roll drums. Thence came the ever popular tribute to Tom Petty with an exuberant ‘American Girl’ sung with gusto and with all guitars blazing.
An upbeat new song ‘It Won’t Rain Forever’ launched the second set, on which Steve promised the sun would come out again soon. An urgent ‘That’s No Good’ shuffled along before Steve ordained ‘One Horse Town’ with all the breezy confidence of a rock idol. “It’s a rock opera” he proclaimed. Let the Platinum albums and Grammy Awards be unleashed. Except, Steve confessed it was only a three minute rock opera. “Well it’s a dry ice moment. Except we don’t have any.”
Never mind. The Steve Eggs Band do have ‘Roll Over,’ ‘We Humans’ and ‘It’s Alright’ to create a Madison Square type buzz. “Sitting in my prison cell with my back against the wall…but it’s alright”’ yelled Mr. Eggs as Mr. Kershaw clamoured for freedom with a blistering solo that threatened to cause a breakdown of law, order and social distancing.
Encore was the cry and the Oval-teenies were rewarded with ‘Falling’ a country rocker with nifty bass guitaring, and the Johnny Cash perennial ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’ The show was over. For how long, we cannot predict. But all hail the band led by “Sutton’s greatest live entertainer,” according to Peter the man with the electric bass and an electric car. Sparks will fly! CHRIS WELCH