Review – Mike Vernon & The Mighty Combo

Mike Vernon & The Mighty Combo – New Wolsey Theatre Fri 24th Feb

I wouldn’t say I know much about R&B – but I took along a man that did – and I figured anything promoted by Radio Suffolk’s Stephen Foster had got to be worth listening too. So on Friday night I was at the New Wolsey to experience Mike Vernon and the Mighty Combo – and it’s got to be said – this was probably one of the best nights of music I have ever been at.

Mike Vernon has in his time been a solo artist as well as a band member, record producer and founder of Blue Horizon records, and he has worked with some of the best including Bowie, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood and Cleo Lane. He’s written original songs and collaborated on many others. His career stretched through the 60’s 70’s and 80’s and he retired having done everything musically it was possible to do. But old rockers can never retire and his great love is performing live – so at the age of 72 he decided to get a band together and start doing gigs again.

Mike Vernon has handpicked the musicians he will be working with and The Mighty Combo  features, Kid Carlos (guitar); Paul Tasker (Saxophone); Matt Little (keyboards); Ian Jennings (upright bass) and Mike Hellier (drums). And wow – what a band and what a huge array of talent.

Opening the evening with the ‘Okey Dokey Stomp’, the indefatigable Mike joined the boys on stage for an evening of energy and vitality that would knock many half his age into a cocked hat. Covering numbers like ‘Rock the Joint’, ‘Hot Little Mamma’ and Fats Domino numbers ‘All by Myself’ and ‘Going Home’, he also performed his own original work – some pieces so new even he wasn’t sure of the lyrics!

‘Kansas City’, ‘Seventh Son’, ‘I don’t know why I love you’ – the blues and rocknroll numbers came thick and fast – all performed with panache and incredible musicianship. Star of The Combo has got to be the incredible guitar playing of Spanish born Kid Carlos – but this was a quality set from everyone on stage that had the theatre rocking from the opening to the close.

Mike confessed this was the first time he been to Ipswich – but it was such a great evening I hope it will be repeated in Ipswich in the near future – and if it is – I would urge you to catch it.

Suzanne Hawkes


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