Steve Gibbons at The Torrington - July 2002
The clichés about maturing with time are all true in the case of Steve Gibbons. Long immortalised as a rock & roller in many people's eyes because of his chart action with "Tulane" and Tupelo Mississippi Flash", as well as such self-penned biker anthems as "BSA", Gibbons has in fact pursued a far more eclectic career in the past two decades. Yes, his still trots out some of his older gems - coolly sophisticated interpretations of Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins, but he's rearranged some as shuffles, some as western swing, that you'd be hard pushed to categorise the whole evening's performance.
And therein lies a double-edged compliment. For Steve Gibbons is a master arranger, an original spontaneous rapper, an intuitive rocker, and of course the UK's closest approximation to Bob Dylan. But the question as ever on people's lips is, "what will we get tonight"? The answer at this two set magnificent Torrington show was best described as a memorable slice of Americana. On one Chuck Berry vamp, Gibbons throws in his own lyrics, a meandering but compelling musical enunciation of the moment Sam Phillips met "The King".
Right in the middle of the extended intro, a buzzing and popping PA gave out. Unfazed by all collapsing around him, Gibbons took a step back, looked at his guitar, slowly glanced with a big grin at his captivated audience, and uttered the immortal line; "It was like that back in '53...this is how Sam Philips would have heard things..." The Crowd as one rose to him, and as if through an act of God, the PA came back on!
But I digress. Together with his stalwart guitarist PJ Wright, Gibbons rocked through "Thunderbird & Jaguar"; and impressed everyone in the house with an acoustic ballad "Grace", and hit the pinnacle of the set on his own self penned "All Right Now" - a song that would not look out of place in a contemporary road movie.
Then just as the house was rocking to the max, Steve pulled a Hoagy Carmichael tune out of his music box of tricks. As stylishly unpredictable as ever, Gibbons was equally as predictable quality wise. By the time of his self penned "Chuck In My Car (a kind of ode to Mr Berry) and a shuffle version of "BSA", there was no more to be said. Steve Gibbons had come, seen and conquered, and played one of the gigs of the year!
Pete Feenstra - Soundcheck magazine